GlaxoSmithKline is reducing the prices of many of its drugs in emerging markets, after a pilot scheme in the Philippines proved to be a success.

Andrew Witty, the company's chief executive, has told the Financial Times that the cuts will boost sales volumes outside the firm's traditional markets. He claimed that "making sure the price-volume equation is right is a key piece of the strategy. We’re willing to flex our business model to show that we are as competitive in the Philippines as in Philadelphia.”

Speaking to the newspaper from the Philippines during a week-long tour of GSK’s Asian operations, Mr Witty noted in the past three months, 30%-50% price cuts locally on 28 of its medicines had boosted volumes by 15%-40%. A 60% price cut in its Cervarix cervical cancer vaccine had increased sales eightfold.

He went on to say that historical efforts to enforce a single global price for drugs has made access to these treatments difficult for poorer countries. However, Mr Witty warned that if the world's richer countries demanded similar price reductions, “that would be very challenging ... and destructive”.

He dismissed suggestions that price cuts in the Philippines – where most healthcare is private – could distort patients’ choices of the most suitable medicines. Mr Witty told the FT that patients received their prescriptions through doctors, and the prices were transparent, unlike discounts on certain drugs offered by some other companies.

Earlier this week, GSK opened a $411 million plant in Singapore which will eventually produce the pneumococcal vaccine Synflorix, to protect children against life-threatening diseases such as meningitis and bacteraemic pneumonia. Mr Witty said it will take a year or two to "make sure all the production processes are running at the appropriate level of quality".