Gates Foundation Buys Stakes in Drug Makers

By David Bank and Rebecca Buckman | The Wall Street Journal | May 17, 2002

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has purchased shares in nine big pharmaceutical companies valued at nearly $205 million — an investment likely to attract attention more for its symbolism than its size.

The foundation, the nation’s largest with an endowment of $24.2 billion from Microsoft Corp. MSFT 0.03%increase; green up pointing triangle Chairman Bill Gates and his wife, already is a major force in international health issues, contributing $555 million in 2000 alone to global health programs. The organization has emerged as a prominent voice in the debate over how to supply cheaper drugs for AIDS and other diseases to poor countries. At times, it has assumed the role of a broker between poor nations and drug companies.

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