U.S. Chamber: Thailand AIDS Drug Decision Sends "Negative Signal"
December 1, 2006
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce today criticized Thailand's decision to break the patent of Merck's antiretroviral treatment efavirenz. The chamber's Bangkok branch warned, "Surprise actions such as these send a negative signal to foreign investors in Thailand regarding transparency and support for intellectual property rights."
The Public Health Ministry's move, announced Wednesday, will allow the Government Pharmaceutical Organization to manufacture the drug generically. GPO already makes nevirapine generically, but thousands of HIV patients have developed resistance to it. The ministry contends many of these drug-resistant patients will die without access to a cheaper version of efavirenz, and the government cannot afford to import enough of the patented product.
While acknowledging Thailand's right to use a compulsory license to get the drug at a lower price, the U.S. Chamber complained that the government took the step without first consulting Merck and seeking a mutual solution.
"We hope that surprise actions such as compulsory licensing do not deter Thailand's important efforts to continue to protect intellectual property and promote a positive investment environment," said Judy Benn, executive director of the chamber's office in Bangkok.
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.