[Ip-health] Thai NHSO to extend AIDS drug compulsory licenses

peter.maybarduk at essentialinformation.org peter.maybarduk at essentialinformation.org
Wed Jun 16 04:22:59 PDT 2010

NHSO extends drug licensing
'Move ensures Aids medications available'

Published: 15/06/2010 at 12:00 AM


The National Health Security Office board has opted to extend its compulsory
licensing in order to produce generic versions of two life-saving Aids drugs
until the end of their patents.

The extension of the scheme which overrides the patents for Efavirenz and a
combination of Lopinavir and Ritonavir drugs was crucial to help cut the
cost of treating people living with HIV/Aids, Public Health

Minister Jurin Laksanavisit said yesterday after chairing the NHSO board

The patent for Efavirenz will expire on Jan 31, 2012, and that for the
Lopinavir/Ritonavir combination on Dec 4, 2016.

The cheaper generic versions of the two anti-retroviral drugs were needed
even more after the cabinet approved the inclusion of people pending
nationality verification into the NHSO's universal healthcare scheme in
March this year.

The compulsory licensing has saved 1.18 billion baht in costs purchasing
anti-retroviral drugs under the scheme.

And the scheme should be able to save 3.2 billion baht more of the
anti-retroviral drug costs if the compulsory licensing of the two drugs is
extended until the end of their patents, he said.

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,
Mr Jurin said.

Before the compulsory licensing of the two drugs, about 4,539 people living
with HIV/Aids obtained access to Efavirenz and only 39 to the
Lopinavir-Ritonavir combination, he said.

But with the compulsory licensing of the drugs, the number of patients
receiving Efavirenz has increased to 29,360 and 6,246 people now receive the
Lopinavir/Ritonavir combination, he said.

Health activists applauded the NHSO's decision.

Aids Access Foundation director Nimit Thien-udom said coverage of people
eligible to access the two drugs will be extended to state enterprise staff,
who were previously forced to pay for the drugs out of their own pocket.

Mr Nimit said state enterprise staff have long been forced to shoulder the
cost of the two drugs because to seek reimbursement meant they will have to
tell their offices what type of treatment they are receiving, Mr Nimit said.
Many refuse to seek reimbursement for fear that others will find out they
are HIV-positive.

Kannikar Kijtiwatchakul, of the Chulalongkorn University's consumer health
protection programme, hailed the NHSO's decision, saying it will largely
benefit people living with HIV/Aids and help the government save funds for
buying the anti-retroviral drugs.

The cost of treatment with Efavirenz has fallen from 1,200 baht a person a
month to only 300 baht a person a month, she said.

The Public Health Ministry announced it will implement the compulsory
licensing of seven drugs including the two Aids drugs, a medicine for the
treatment of heart and brain blood vessel disease, and four other drugs for
treatment of cancer.

NHSO wants licence extended for two Aids drugs

By Pongphon Sarnsamak
The Nation
Published on June 15, 2010


The National Health Security Office (NHSO)'s board asked the Public Health
Ministry yesterday to extend enforcement of compulsory licensing for two
second line drugs for the treatment of Aids - Efavirenz and the cocktail
formula Lopinavir/Ritonavir.

The move came after an NHSO board meeting, chaired by Public Health Minister
Jurin Laksanawisit, at which it was explained that enforcement of compulsory
licensing of the two Aids drugs would expire in the next two years.

Jurin said the request to extend the enforcement of compulsory licensing for
these two drugs would be sent to the Department of Disease Control for a
green light.

Additionally, the two Aids drugs would available for over 450,000 people now
waiting to get citizenship status.

The Public Health Ministry imposed compulsory licensing (CL) for efavirenz
and lopinavir/ritonavir in 2006 and 2007.

The enforcement of CL for efavirenz is due to expire in December 2011, while
licensing of the cocktail formula drug combining lopinavir and ritonavir
will expire in January 2012.

Imposing compulsory licensing on these two drugs has saved the NHSO Bt 1.8
billion over the past three years.

About 70,000 people living with HIV/Aids need the two drugs to save their
lives. The NHSO estimates the number of people living with HIV/Aids who need
the two drugs will total about 60,000 by 2012.

If the government does not extend the enforcement of compulsory licensing
for these two Aids drugs, thousands of people living with HIV will be
affected. It could also have a big impact on the NHSO, which would have to
allocate large sums to buy the original drugs.

The government would have to spend Bt470 million to buy efavirenz and Bt2.7
billion to buy lopinavir and ritonavir.

The licence for efavirenz ends in August 2013, while the licence for the
cocktail formula drug combining lopinavir and ritonavir expires in 2021.

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