UPDATE 1-GlaxoSmithKline promises reduced drug patents to help world's poor
* GSK won't seek drug patents in low-income countries
* Part of graduated approach to patents, depending on wealth
* GSK plans to pool patents on next-generation cancer drugs (Adds reaction, CEO comment on profits, country details)
By Ben Hirschler
LONDON, March 31 (Reuters) - GlaxoSmithKline is to adopt a graduated approach to patenting its medicines, depending on the wealth of different countries, in order to make drugs more affordable in the developing world.
Britain's biggest drugmaker said on Thursday it would not file patents in low-income states, leaving the way clear for generic companies to make cheap copies of its drugs without fear of being sued.
For lower middle-income countries, GSK will seek patents but it aims to strike licence deals that allow supplies of generic versions of its medicines for 10 years. These licences are expected to earn GSK a "small" sales royalty.
Together, the moves will cover about 85 countries with a combined population of more than 2 billion.
The company will continue to seek full patent protection in high- and upper middle-income countries, as well as members of the Group of 20 major economies, including China, Brazil and India. Continuación...