[Ip-health] Bangkok Post: WHO pushes for regional medicinal production

thiru at keionline.org thiru at keionline.org
Fri Sep 17 02:11:14 PDT 2010


WHO pushes for regional medicinal production

    * Published: 8/09/2010 at 12:00 AM
    * Newspaper section: News

Southeast Asian countries have not invested enough in the research and
development essential for self-reliance on medicinal treatment in the
region, a World Health Organisation official says.

WHO Southeast Asia regional director Samlee Plianbangchang said
collaboration on research and development, as well as cooperation with the
pharmaceutical industry, was crucial to developing a healthcare system in
the region.

However, it was difficult to put these two steps into practice as
Southeast Asian nations still depended on the Western pharmaceutical

"The industry is not keen on upstream collaboration because countries in
the region are the market," he told a news conference at the 28th Meeting
of Ministers of Health yesterday.

The meeting will be followed by the 63rd session of the WHO Regional
Committee from today until Friday.

Representatives from 11 member countries are taking part in the four-day
event: Bangladesh, Bhutan, Burma, India, Indonesia, Maldives, Nepal, North
Korea, Sri Lanka, East Timor and Thailand.

Dr Samlee said India, Indonesia and Thailand were among a few countries
striving to invest in research and development. However, the capital was
still not enough to strengthen their self-reliance and capacity to
manufacture pharmaceutical or vaccine products for local use.

WHO director-general Margaret Chan said India, as the world's leading
generic drug manufacturer, could help transfer knowledge to member
countries in the region so they could be more self-reliant and have better
access to affordable life-saving medicines.

Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva told the news conference there was a
moral obligation involved and governments were responsible for ensuring
that all citizens had access to quality health care.

Dr Samlee said the term "counterfeit drugs" should be carefully defined.
The WHO is in the process of working with the International Medical
Products Anti-Counterfeiting Taskforce to ensure equitable access to
generic drugs would not be undermined by vague definitions of counterfeit
drugs or infringement of intellectual property rights.

Extension of intellectual property rights protection to label generic
medicines as counterfeit had already affected access to medicine in some
countries, he said.

In November 2008, Dutch authorities seized 49kg of the second line
anti-Aids drug Atazanavir produced in India and destined for the treatment
of HIV/Aids sufferers in Nigeria on grounds of counterfeiting offences and
infringing intellectual property rights.

The matter was heavily criticised as an example of rising protectionism in
trade and industry which hampered access to life-saving medicine.

India and Brazil petitioned the World Trade Organisation's Trade Related
Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights Court on the issue. It is being

Participants of the ministerial meeting are expected to adopt the Bangkok
Declaration on Urbanisation and Health on the closing day on Friday.

The proposed Bangkok Declaration covers 12 topics including the extension
of resources and the coverage of services to all urban populations,
particularly the poor, to improve health outcomes and reduce social costs
of inequity.

An estimated 67% of the world population is expected to live in urban
areas by the year 2030. In Thailand, 36.11% of the total 64 million
population already live in urban areas, Public Health Minister Jurin
Laksanavisit said.

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