Thailand, Pharmaceuticals and Intellectual Property

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Washington College of Law, Program on Information Justice and Intellectual Property, background on Thailand's compulsory licenses Web link

Long history of domestic (generic) drug production.

Pre-TRIPS history of pressure from US TR. See Timeline of Trade Disputes involving Thailand and access to medicines by Susannah Markandya (July 23, 2001) [[1]]

From 2005 the provisions of the TRIPS Agreement applied in Thailand and new patenting arrangements were introduced.

Thailand announces intention to issue compulsory licence for efavirenz. [[2]]

See also: [Gillian's presentation]

The greed of Abbott Laboratories [Abbott Greed]

Thailand's Lawful Compulsory Licensing and Abbott's Anticompetitive Response
April 26, 2007: This report explains why (1) Thailand was fully within its rights under its own law and under the WTO TRIPS agreement in issuing compulsory licenses to procure medicines, and (2) why Abbott's refusal to supply several medicines to Thailand in response, and its refusal to license generic provision of its products before the license, may violate Thailand's Competition Act.
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AIDS Activists Call for Global Boycott of Abbott for Withholding Drug Sales in Thailand
Thursday, April 26th, 2007: AIDS activists from around the globe are converging in Illinois on Friday to protest outside the annual shareholders meeting of the pharmaceutical company Abbott Laboratories.
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Abbott to cut AIDS drug price in 40 poor countries
CHICAGO (Reuters) 11 April 2007: Abbott Laboratories Inc., widely criticized for aggressive pricing of its AIDS medicines in developing countries, said on Tuesday it would slash the price of a key AIDS drug by more than half in more than 40 poor countries.
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Notes from March 16th 2007 U.S. Capitol Briefing on Thailand’s Compulsory Licenses
16 March 2007: On Friday, March 16, KEI organized a briefing in the U.S. Capitol on Thailand’s recent compulsory licenses on three drugs; two for HIV/AIDS (Merck’s efavirenz (Stocrin) and Abbott’s lopinavir + ritonavir (Kaletra)) and one for heart disease (Sanofi’s clopidogrel (Plavix)).
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MSF Denounces Abbott’s Move to Withhold Medicines From People in Thailand
15 March 2007: The international medical humanitarian organization Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) today denounced Abbott Laboratories’ decision not to market its new medicines in Thailand.
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A New Low in the Pharma Drug Wars - Abbott Withdraws Seven Medicines in Thailand
14 March 2007: Brook K. Baker, Health GAP. How low will drug companies go to protect their intellectual property empire?
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Thailand stands up to Abbott
13 March 2007: When Thailand went ahead with a compulsory license on Kaletra, an AIDS drug, despite threats from Abbott the maker of the drug, the latter hit back by withdrawing the registration of a new heat stable form of Kaletra and six other drugs. The likely outcome will be more deaths of innocent patients.
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WHO DG regrets her reported remarks on Thai compulsory licenses
15 February 2007: The WHO Director General Dr. Margaret Chan, has sent a letter to Thailand's Health Minister expressing regret for the embarrassment caused to his government by remarks she was reported to have made in Bangkok that were critical of the compulsory licenses granted by the government for three medicines.
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Thailand backs off threat to break drug patents
8 Feb 2007: [BANGKOK] Thailand has delayed breaking the patent of an AIDS drug and a heart medicine, and entered into negotiations with drug firms to lower the price so that more people can be treated.
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Stephen Lewis Criticises Margaret Chan
4 Feb 2007: Stephen Lewis, former UN Special Envoy for HIV/AIDS in Africa, calls for World Health Organization director Margaret Chan to reverse her support of drug companies over governments trying to provide medicines for their peoples. His remarks were recorded at the Global Justice student conference in Washington, DC, on February 4.
Video [3]
Fight AIDS [4]

WHO Chief's Stand on Generic Drugs Slammed
BANGKOK, Feb 2 (IPS) - Civil society and humanitarian groups slammed the new head of the World Health Organisation (WHO), on the sidelines of a meeting here, after she appeared to favour the interests of pharmaceutical giants over the plight of the sick and the poor in the developing world.
Full article available from IPS: [5]

Thailand approves copycat drugs
January 30, 2007: THAILAND'S army appointed government said today it had approved a cheap, copycat heart disease drug, the first time a developing country has ignored an international patent for such a treatment.
Full article available from The Australian: [6]

Thailand throws down gauntlet to drug giants
30 Jan 2007: IN A precedent-setting challenge to global drug companies, Thailand has become the first developing country to issue a compulsory licence to manufacture a generic drug that is not AIDS related.
Follow link to Sydney Morning Herald article. [7]]

Thailand Invokes WTO Rule To Sell Generics For HIV And Heart Disease Drugs
30 Jan 2007: Thailand has invoked a World Trade Organization (WTO) agreement on intellectual property rights to allow the manufacture, purchase and sale of generic versions of two drugs for heart disease and HIV/AIDS in the country.
Full article available online here

IP Watch home page [[8]]

Open Letter to WHO/UNAIDS India re Margaret Chan's comments on Thai Compulsory License
Read the letter here

WHO DG Chan Shocking Views Criticised by NGOs (Martin Khor, 5 Feb 07)
Read a Comment from PHM member on Chan's visit to Bangkok re Thai Compulsory License

Public Health at Risk: A US Free Trade Agreement could threaten access to medicines in Thailand
April 2006, Oxfam Briefing paper: New stringent drug patent and marketing rules being negotiated in a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) between the US and Thailand would limit competition and reduce access to affordable medicines in Thailand. This would threaten the future of existing successful Thai HIV/AIDS treatment programmes, which rely on inexpensive generic drugs, and thus deprive thousands of people of effective treatment. Oxfam opposes an FTA with intellectual property rules that exceed the standards agreed at the World Trade Organization.

Thailand and the Compulsory Licensing of Efavirenz' Robert Steinbrook NEJM Volume 356:544-546

Of the many medicines for human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection, efavirenz, a nonnucleoside reverse-transcriptase inhibitor that became available in the late 1990s, is one of the most important. For the initial treatment of adults, the combination of efavirenz and two nucleoside reverse-transcriptase inhibitors "has become a standard-of-care comparator in clinical trials," according to Hammer et al.1 Moreover, efavirenz is available in a fixed-dose combination tablet with the nucleoside analogues emtricitabine and tenofovir; this tablet is taken only once a day. Efavirenz can cause birth defects when taken during the first trimester of pregnancy, so its use is restricted in . . . .

Please note, you will need access to the New England Journal of Medicine to read these articles. Most university libraries will provide access on site if you do not have online access.

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