Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Thailand - Compulsory Licensing Will Continue

The Public Health Minister, Chavarat Charnvirakul (pictured right), has declared that compulsory licensing of essential medicines will continue in Thailand, despite ongoing pressure from international pharmaceutical companies.

The announcement comes after months of speculation as to whether the health policy would continue, with the election of a new government in April this year. And it follows reports of lobbying of the government by Sanofi-Aventis to purchase its product.
Wichai Chokewiwat, Government Pharmaceutical Organisation (GPO) chairman, is reported as stating that Sanofi had offered to compensate the GPO by selling its products at a discount in Thailand.
Meanwhile, The Nation has reported today that a group of 500 HIV/AIDS activists and patients have challenged Sanofi-Aventis to take its claims to the Central Administrative Court. The challenge is to put in a public forum claims made in a confidential letter to the Commerce Minister requesting a review of the enforcement of compulsory licensing of docetaxel (for which a licence was issued in January this year).
The president of the Thai NGO Coalition on AIDS, Supattra Nakapiew, is reported as stating "We want Sanofi Aventis to file a lawsuit with the Central Administrative Court because we want this case to be a test for the enforcement of compulsory licensing of life-saving drugs in the future."
Before the end of this month, a joint committee meeting of senior officials from the Public Health Ministry, Commerce Ministry and Foreign Ministry together with other interested parties (including civil society organisations and the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, PhRMA) will decide on solutions to access to essential medicines in Thailand and the best means by which these can be delivered.

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