[Ip-health] HIV/Aids drugs licence extended

Kar K. kakablueblue at gmail.com
Tue Aug 3 20:37:03 PDT 2010

 HIV/Aids drugs licence extended

   - Published: 3/08/2010 at 12:00 AM
   - Newspaper section:

      The Public Health Ministry plans to extend the licensing period of two
HIV/Aids drugs this month.

The decision to extend the licensing period was made yesterday at a meeting
of representatives from the Disease Control Department, the Department of
Intellectual Property, the Foreign Ministry, the Government Pharmaceutical
Organisation, the Food and Drug Administration and a network of Aids

They agreed the country's policy on compulsory drug licensing was legitimate
and in accordance with the 2001 Doha Declaration signed by all member
countries of the World Trade Organisation.

Disease Control Department director-general Manit Teeratantikanon is
expected to sign the official announcement next month.

The decision follows the National Health Security Office board meeting in
June which proposed the ministry extend the compulsory licensing policy to
override patents for Efavirenz and a combination of Lopinavir and Ritonavir
until their patents had expired.

The patent for Efavirenz will expire on Jan 31, 2012, while that for
Lopinavir/Ritonavir falls due on Dec 4, 2016.

The two regimens are crucial for the treatment of people living with
HIV/Aids under the three health care schemes: civil servants, social
security and universal health care.

The access to the drugs will also cover about 4.5 million people from ethnic
minorities and those who were born on Thai soil but are waiting for
verification of their citizenship, Disease Control Department deputy
director-general Somsak Akkasilp said.

The extension would enable the Government Pharmaceutical Organisation to
import generic versions of the two drugs from pharmaceutical companies in
India, he said.

Compulsory licensing allows a government to produce a patented product or
process without the consent of the patent owner. It comes under the World
Trade Organisation's agreement on intellectual property to help provide
developing countries with greater access to drugs.

Compulsory licensing has saved 1.18 billion baht on the purchase of
anti-retroviral drugs. Another 3.2 billion baht in anti-retroviral drug
costs could be saved if compulsory licensing of the two drugs was extended
until the end of their patents, Public Health Minister Jurin Laksanavisit

Thailand's compulsory licensing has also forced down the prices of Efavirenz
and the Lopinavir-Ritonavir combination by 3.4 and 6.4 times respectively
since the country announced its policy on HIV/Aids and cancer drugs in
November 2006.

Before the compulsory licensing of the two drugs, about 4,539 HIV-positive
people had access Efavirenz and only 39 could afford the Lopinavir-Ritonavir
combination, he said.

The policy resulted in an increase in the number of patients receiving
Efavirenz to 29,360. More than 6,200 people now receive the
Lopinavir/Ritonavir combination.

Kannikar Kijtiwatchakul

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