[Ip-health] Lawsuits fly over drug copyright remark

Kannikar Kijtiwatchakul kakablueblue at gmail.com
Tue Jan 18 01:06:19 PST 2011

 Lawsuits fly over drug copyright remark

   - Published: 18/01/2011 at 12:00 AM
   - Bangkok Post<http://www.bangkokpost.com/advance-search/?papers_sec_id=1>

    Health and consumer advocates have brought in legal teams to help the
leaders of three patient networks fight libel suits brought against them by
the head of a drug producers' group.

The president of the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers Association
(PReMA), Teera Chakajnarodom, filed defamation charges against the three in

They are Tharkul Sakarakul of the Psychosis Patients' Network; Boripat
Donmon of the Thai Network of People Living with HIV/Aids; and Phantorn
Jongsuwat of the Friends of Cancer Patients' Network.

Mr Teera filed the lawsuits after the three activists petitioned the
Pharmacy Council in June to investigate claims of misconduct after the PReMA
chief made negative remarks about compulsory licensing (CL), which allows a
government to produce patented products or processes without the consent of
the patent owner.

The three said Mr Teera misled the public by claiming CL was a form of
intellectual property rights violation.

They said it was a biased remark designed to protect the interests of giant
pharmaceutical firms. Mr Teera is a pharmacist and so his comments were

Thailand has imposed compulsory licensing since 2006 as a short-term
solution to high-priced drugs and a soaring health bill. The pharmaceutical
giants oppose the move as it allows for cheap generic equivalents of drugs
for which they hold patents.

Narongrit Phetrit, Mr Teera's lawyer, told the Bangkok Post his client felt
the activists' June petition had harmed his reputation and decided to file
libel suits against them.

The Nonthaburi court is scheduled to hold a preliminary hearing on the case
on Monday to consider whether to accept it for trial.

The Foundation for Consumers yesterday announced its support for the three
activists and swung a legal team into action to help them.

Foundation secretary-general Saree Aongsomwang said the foundation and the
three patient networks were considering a counter-lawsuit against Mr Teera
and the Pharmacy Council for alleged conflict of interest over the CL issue.

The three activists said their call for an ethics investigation into Mr
Teera was in the public interest.

Saichol Saradatta, a member of the Friends of Cancer Patients' Network, said
the debate over CL should be over but the libel suit had resurrected it. It
would remind the public just how important the CL measure was.

Mr Tharkul said drugs were not just another commercial product as life and
death issues were involved. Therefore Mr Teera's violation of intellectual
property remark was out of order.

"We need to think of the end users rather than the profits of drug
producers," he said.

Mr Boripat said CL was supported by the World Trade Organisation. Therefore
anyone holding a key position in the drug industry should be investigated
for making misleading remarks against it.

Mr Narongrit said his client needed to file the libel suits to clear himself
of allegations made by the activists that he was biased on the issue.

Kannikar Kijtiwatchakul

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