The Thai Public Health Ministry said Monday it would advise the government to continue ignoring patents on four cancer-fighting drugs, a move that allows cheaper generic versions to be imported and manufactured in Thailand.
Public Health Minister Chaiya Sasomsup said in a statement he would inform Commerce Minister Mingkwan Saengsuwan of the decision Tuesday.
On January 4, less than a month before leaving office, the government of former Prime Minister Surayud Chulanont issued compulsory licenses for four drugs - Novartis' Imatinib and Letrozole, Sanofi-Aventis' Docetaxel, and Roche's Erlotinib.
Pressure from the US
Chaiya said last month he would review those licenses, after the
Commerce Ministry suggested that continuing to ignore certain drug
patents could disrupt trade with the United States.
Novartis AG and Roche Holding AG are Swiss, and Sanofi-Aventis SA is
The drugs lose their patent protection under a global "compulsory
licensing" concept that makes some drugs more affordable by taking away
the patent holder's ability to control the drug's price.
National public health emergency
There are several conditions under which international trade and
patent laws allow compulsory licensing, one of the most notable being
the right to manufacture a generic drug in case of a national public
The ministry statement said it favoured keeping compulsory licensing
on the anti-cancer drugs because it would save more than 3 billion baht
(US$95 million; €62 million) a year of government money, and allow an
affordable supply of the most effective medicine to go to those who
At the same time, however, it said it was willing to continue
talking with the manufacturers about providing the drugs at lower
prices. – (Reuters Health)
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