AIDS Activists Condemn Thai Government Support for Bristol-Myers Patent Case
January 15, 2003
On Sunday, Thai AIDS activists condemned a government request for court protection allowing Bristol-Myers Squibb to produce didanosine (ddI) in any dosage. A court issued a landmark verdict October ruling that BMS's patent gave it exclusive rights to produce ddI only in certain doses, enabling other parties to make it in different quantities. BMS and Thailand's Intellectual Property Department appealed the decision in December, and the department -- not BMS -- also asked the court to allow production to continue in any dosage, pending the appeal.Adapted from:
"Both BMS and the intellectual property department have appealed the first case. But the department has asked for special protection for BMS, and that's what we cannot understand," said Saree Aongsomwang, spokesperson for the Foundation for Consumers, which is a plaintiff. "Even the Thai government has agreed that it's an urgent issue -- the need to increase people's access to pharmaceuticals," Saree said.
The court's original ruling would clear the way for the Government Pharmaceutical Organization to produce ddI in dosages of more than 100 milligrams at about half the price of BMS's ddI. BMS holds the patent for production in five milligram to 100 milligram dosages. AIDS Access Foundation Director Nimit Thien-udom said the appeal by the department was unexpected. "I think that the intellectual property department, as part of the government, must work for the people. I was very surprised when they appealed on the side of the company," he said. "It's not fair for people living with HIV/AIDS in Thailand."
AIDS activists planned to ask the court Tuesday to extend similar protection to GPO so it can produce generic ddI in all dosages, pending a decision in a second case now being heard by the court, Nimit said. That case is seeking the complete withdrawal of BMS's patent for ddI. The Foundation for Consumers and other plaintiffs argue that the patent, which covers a tablet form of ddI that is supplemented by an antacid, is not sufficiently innovative to warrant patent protection.
Agence France Presse
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.