Pharmaceuticals giant GlaxoSmithKline appears to have gone all warm and fuzzy and put thousands of potential malaria curing compounds. This means that any other pharma company can use them to create new drugs.

If this doesn't come as a surprise, it's probably because you haven't heard much about GSK. To be fair, all drugs manufacturers are in a difficult position: We want them around because their products can save lives, but they have to turn a profit to keep shareholders happy, which means they have to build a business model around making money from people in poor health. Not the easiest conundrum to get around, but perhaps this is the reason why businesses like GSK seem to have totally demagnetised their moral compasses. You can click here and read a bit about them,  but here is a handful of highlights from their history:

Hiding test results showing that anti-depressant Seroxat was causing teenagers to commit suicide or self-harm.

Putting Avandia, a diabetes treatment which also seems to raise risk of strokes and heart disease, on the market.

Releasing trichloroethylene, a carcinogenic cleaning solvent, into a local water supply.

A drugs test on 13,000 Argentinean children involving reports of poor standards of care, parents being coerced or threatened into signing consent forms and parents being unaware of their children's participation.

Testing drugs on poor and illiterate people in India in order to cut costs, despite reports that most of the Indian population will never see any resulting drugs as they will be too expensive.

Spending millions of dollars on lobbying campaigns in order to influence laws passed or denied in US Congress.

Paid $400 million to settle an investigation into their sales and marketing methods.

So, call me cynical, but as I was reading about their gesture of goodwill in The Guardian, I couldn't help thinking: "How unexpected; GSK are one of the most morally repugnant companies in the universe. This must have something to do with money."

So I continue reading Glaxo UK boss Andrew Witty's fluffy corporate babble about earning "the trust of society" and so on, looking for clues which might lead to the real reason for releasing all of that potential profit.

"It's trying to create a permissiveness around scientific research in an area where we know the marketplace isn't going to stimulate massive research".

There it is. That sentence translates precisely to: "There's not enough money in a cure for malaria".

From one point of view, as I said, GSK is a business with shareholders to please, so losing money isn't going to be an attractive idea for the bosses. On the other hand, malaria kills around three million people every year.

I'm not surprised that our friends at GlaxoSmithKline aren't exactly doing this out of the goodness of their hearts. What they've done is decided that, if they're not going to profit from curing malaria, they'll use their abandonment of the project to improve their company image (very cheaply) by offering up what they deem to be worthless assets and issuing a press release.  If malaria is cured as a result, then that can only be a good thing. But when GSK pop their heads up and tell everyone it was based on their generously donated compound, I hope enough people remind them exactly why they didn't finish the job themselves.

GlaxoSmithKline have been urged to take the same steps with their AIDS research, but that information remains secret. There's still money in AIDS.