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International News

Thailand: AIDS Activists Win Court Battle Against US Drug Maker

October 2, 2002

Thai health activists battling to reduce the cost of AIDS drugs won a victory Tuesday when a judge in Bangkok ruled invalid part of a patent held by US drug maker Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. The suit was brought by People Living with HIV/AIDS, a non-governmental organization, and two people with HIV. It alleged that Bristol-Myers improperly sought to extend its patent on Videx to cover dosages beyond those for which it originally applied. The ruling on the antiretroviral Videx EC allows activists to proceed with a lawsuit seeking to completely overturn Bristol-Myers' patent on the drug in Thailand and let other companies manufacture generic versions at a lower price. The ruling has no effect on Bristol's patent in the United States.

Thailand's Central Intellectual Property Court ruled that Bristol-Myers' patent covers only pills containing between 5 and 100 milligrams of didanosine -- the active ingredient in Videx -- and paves the way for other drug makers to market pills with dosages above 100 milligrams. Judge Kornkanya Suwanpanich's ruling also affirmed that non-governmental organizations and individuals could challenge patents on social grounds, such as public health. Previously, only companies with a commercial interest in such cases had been complainants.

A Bristol-Myers spokesperson in the United States said he would not comment on the suit until the company had seen details of the ruling.

Back to other CDC news for October 2, 2002

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Adapted from:
Associated Press
10.01.02; Uamdao Noikorn

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This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update.
See Also
More on Generic/Discount HIV Drug Access in the Developing World