[Ip-health] Malaysia Can Teach Trump How to Lower Drug Prices

Fran Quigley fwquigley at gmail.com
Mon Feb 19 04:39:29 PST 2018

Health and Human Rights Journal, https://www.hhrjournal.org/2018/02/malaysia-can-teach-trump-how-to-lower-drug-prices/ 
Malaysia Can Teach Trump How to Lower Drug Prices
By Fifa Rahman and Fran Quigley

	Trump’s promises can be more than bluster, and the country of Malaysia has proved it.
	Malaysia faces a frightening crisis in the spread of hepatitis C, with an estimated 500,000 people—2.5 % of the entire population—infected with the chronic liver disease.

Spurred on by  civil society activism, including encouragement by the Malaysian AIDS Council which co-author Rahman served as Manager of HCV Access and Affordability, and an ongoing feasibility trial of generic sofosbuvir/ravidasvir among Malaysian patients, the Malaysian ministry of health has partnered with the non-profit Drugs for Neglected Disease Initiative and Egyptian drug manufacturer Pharco Pharmaceuticals. Together, they are developing the generic version of sofosbuvir and ravidasvir, aiming for a treatment price of just $300 per patient. 
	And Malaysia has every legal right to do so. Under its own national law and the terms of the World Trade Organization’s Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property (TRIPS), Malaysia can sidestep the onerous Gilead patent. As previously outlined in the Health and Human Rights Journal, the TRIPS Agreement protects the rights of nations to issue “compulsory licenses” for generic drug manufacturing, especially when the patent-protected corporate price makes the medicine unavailable to many.

	Trump, the U.S., and every other nation can and should follow its lead. Not only does the TRIPS Agreement protect their rights to do so, but national laws usually do as well. In the U.S., for example, both Bayh-Dole Act “march-in” rights and the even broader eminent-domain-esque power granted by 28 U.S. Code 1498 allow the Administration to follow the same path on sofosbuvir and other critical medicines. 
	In fact, the U.S. government has a long history of bypassing patents when it considers doing so to be in the national interest. The bottom line is that patents are inherently fragile government-created and government-granted legal constructs. And they are relatively recent legal constructs at that, especially for medicines. The state giveth so-called intellectual property, and the state can certainly taketh away.

Fran Quigley
PFAM: People of Faith for Access to Medicines, www.pfamrx.org, (317) 750-4891
Also: Clinical Professor, Health & Human Rights Clinic, Indiana University McKinney School of Law

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