[Ip-health] CSO's action at the Ministry of Commerce yesterday.

Jockey jockey.kit at gmail.com
Tue Oct 2 21:33:42 PDT 2012

Below is the news posted in an English newspaper in Thailand today (Bangkok
Post), regarding the PLHIV network's action against the TRIPs plus FTA
negotiation, on the occasion of the 10th anniversary of ddI court case.

Content (translated from Thai into English) of the letter handed to the
Minister of Commerce and the General Directors of the Trade Negotiation
Department and the IP Department, expressing the CSO's demands on the FTA
negotiation and the examination of the drug patent application system, are
at the end of this email.



 Dept probes drug access fears

   - Published:
01:35 AM
   - Newspaper section:

      The Trade Negotiations Department has agreed to compare the texts of
the proposed Thailand-EU Free Trade Agreement with those of other countries
after concerns raised by activists that Thailand is being treated unfairly.

Director-general Piramol Charoenpao said staff would investigate activists'
claims that the EU has agreed not to require the so-called Trips-plus
provisions in its FTA with some other countries, including India.

The department will also compare the initial text of the proposed
Thailand-EU FTA and the agreement which the EU will make with other
countries such as Singapore and Vietnam.

It will invite all stakeholders to talks before making any conclusions on
the FTA, she said.

"The principle is that the FTA must create a win-win situation and the
benefits must exceed the losses," she said.

About 500 members of the Thai Network of People Living with HIV/Aids
yesterday gathered at the Commerce Ministry to oppose the Thailand-EU FTA.
They say the agreement will hamper patient access to vital drugs.

The group has raised concerns that a great number of additional provisions
more stringent than the World Trade Organisation's Trade-Related Aspects of
Intellectual Property Rights agreement, known as the TRIPs-plus provisions,
including data exclusivity, the extension of the patent protection period,
and stricter IP protection enforcement, have been included in the
Thailand-EU FTA text.

Usawadee Maleewong, an activist who led the gathering, said a study by the
Social Pharmacy Research Centre of Chulalongkorn University shows that data
exclusivity, which bans registration of generic drugs during the data
exclusivity period, costs the government as much as 81 billion baht in drug

A network activist, also a HIV patient, said the government's universal
health care scheme does not cover some specific drugs used to treat

"We may have to pay extra if the government can't do so itself, which means
some patients will not survive because they can't afford imported drugs,"
he said.

Meanwhile, a new online resource for civil society and patient groups in
developing countries for challenging unwarranted drug patents was launched
yesterday by Medecins Sans Frontieres.

The Patent Opposition Database comes on the 10th anniversary of a landmark
decision in Thailand that paved the way for patent opposition by civil
society groups.

The Patent Opposition Database can be found at www.patentoppositions.org.

On Oct 2, 2002, Thailand's Central Intellectual Property and International
Trade Court overturned the patent on the then-key HIV drug didanosine,
after the Aids Access Foundation and three Thais living with HIV challenged

"Drug companies routinely apply for patents or are granted monopolies on
medicines even when these aren't actually deserved," said Michelle Childs,
director of policy advocacy for MSF's access campaign.

Letter to the Minister of Commerce

*Translation Version*

* *

October 2, 2012

Dear Minister of Commerce

Re: Civil society organizations’ propositions on FTA negotiations and drug

The 15 undersigned civil society organizations disagree with the Trade
Negotiation Department (TND) on their actions to accelerate the free trade
agreement (FTA) negotiation with the European Union (EU)  that they do not
recognize concerns and opposition raised by civil society groups in the
health and agriculture sectors, academics, and even other government

TND has not been concerned about an adverse impact on the health and
agriculture sectors at all.  On the contrary, TND merely focuses on instant
and confined economic returns with a lack of sufficient and reliable
technical support.  Adversely, burdens and damages from FTAs are put on the
shoulders of other government organizations and Thai people instead.  TND
has a duty to negotiate, but they afterwards do not take any responsibility
for FTA’s destructive consequences.

A large number of evidences, such as research works and experience of other
developing countries, have indicated that if Thailand accepts to have trade
negotiations that have obligations on intellectual property (IP) excessive
than the WTO’s IP protection standard, the country’s public health,
especially access to essential medicines, and the agriculture sector will
be severely affected.  Despite the fact that Thailand is now considered an
upper-middle-income country and not entitled to benefit from the
Generalized System of Preference (GSP), the impact will be far more serious
than the GSP’s revocation.

In addition, the patent application’s examination system in Thailand is
ineffectual.  It has resulted in a great number of frivolous drug patents.  The
malfunctioning system as such delays the generic-drug industry’s
competition and encourages excessive market monopoly.  Finally people’s
access to essential medicines at affordable prices has been delayed, and
the country has to bear public health’s high costs needlessly.

The 15 civil society organizations, therefore, have the following
propositions to the Minister of Commerce with regard to free trade
agreements and drug patents:

1.    FTAs’ negotiation frameworks on IP protection must not be excessive
than or more stringent than the WTO’s TRIPs Agreement, and  Thailand will
not ratify the UPOV 1991 Convention and the Budapest Treaty.

2.    FTA’s negotiations must be in accordance with the intent of the
Constitution of the Kingdom of Thailand, B.E. 2550, Section 190, and the
results of the Health Impact Assessment (HIA), which is a requirement in
compliance with the National Health Assembly’s Resolution, must be taken
into account of the FTAs’ negotiation frameworks.

3.    The Department of Intellectual Property has to accelerate their
process in developing and implementing a drug patent application’s
examination manual as soon as possible and in the most effective way in
order to address frivolous patents on pharmaceutical products excessive
market monopoly and to promote access to affordable medicines on a timely

We are really expecting that the Minister would pay attention to our
concerns and realize the adverse impact on people’s health and livelihoods.
In FTAs’ negotiations, Thailand must stand firm on the position that the IP
protection will not be stricter than the obligations of the current
international agreement.  The Department of IP must improve their patent
application’s examination system to be more effective and to be fairer than
the existing practice.

Sincerely yours,

Thai Network of People Living with HIV/AIDS

Thai NGO Coalition on AIDS

AIDS Access Foundation

Foundation for AIDS Rights

Alternative Agriculture Network

Friends of Kidney-failure Patients Club

Cancer Patient Network

Foundation for Consumers

The Rural Pharmacist Foundation

Drug Study Group

Biodiversity and Community Right Action Thailand, (Biothai)

Ecological Alert and Recovery - Thailand

Thai Holistic Health Foundation

Rural Doctor Foundation

FTA Watch

cc:     General Director of the Trade Negotiation Department

          General Director of the Department of Intellectual Property

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