Commentary & Opinion
Debate Over Thai Compulsory Licensing Will Undermine Drug Industry's Ability to Provide Medicines to Developing Countries, Editorial Says
May 14, 2007
Although pharmaceutical company Abbott Laboratories offers many of the world's poorest countries with a discounted price for its antiretroviral drug Kaletra, it continues to be "attacked as a price-gouging capitalist indifferent to the suffering of the poor," a Chicago Tribune editorial says. According to the editorial, the reason for this criticism is because Abbott is involved in an "escalating" intellectual property dispute over the compulsory licensing of Kaletra in Thailand. Thai officials' stance on compulsory licensing "suggests that this isn't just about price," the editorial says, adding, "It's about power. And it's a direct challenge to intellectual property protection -- which makes drug research and development viable for companies like Abbott." The "outcome of this and similar battles" will affect the ability of all drug makers to develop new medications and make them accessible in developing countries, the editorial says. It adds that if Thailand "ignores the patent and still gets access to discounted" Aluvia, the updated version of Kaletra, "other countries will be emboldened to follow suit." According to the Tribune, the "world's poor should hope Abbott prevails" because they will "suffer if Abbott and other companies no longer have incentives to invest in new drugs that would mainly help" developing countries (Chicago Tribune, 5/10).
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This article was provided by Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. It is a part of the publication Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report. Visit the Kaiser Family Foundation's website to find out more about their activities, publications and services.