Thai, U.S. Trade Talks Will Include Discussion of Intellectual Property Rights, Generic Antiretroviral Drugs
Thailand and the United States during upcoming free trade negotiations are scheduled to discuss intellectual property rights, including HIV/AIDS advocates' concerns about patents on antiretroviral medications, Bangkok's chief negotiator Nitya Pibulsonggram announced on Thursday, the Bangkok Post reports (Ashayagachat, Bangkok Post, 4/1). Protestors on Friday demonstrated outside of the U.S. embassy in Bangkok and sent a letter to Nitya asking that any measures that could affect generic antiretroviral drugs "be left out" of the talks, according to Reuters. HIV/AIDS advocates are worried that a Thai agreement with the United States could force Thailand's pharmaceutical industry to stop producing less-expensive generic versions of antiretroviral drugs, thereby increasing the cost of treatment for HIV/AIDS patients. However, Nitya assured opponents of the trade talks that no agreements have been finalized and that each government is simply voicing their demands (Phoonphongphiphat, Reuters, 4/1). A group of protesters from Thailand and other countries held a rally in July 2004 during the XV International AIDS Conference in Bangkok to call for increased access to antiretroviral drugs and an end to free trade negotiations between Thailand and the United States, saying that such agreements could protect U.S. patents on antiretrovirals. In November 2004, the Thai government told HIV/AIDS patients and advocates in the country that the free trade agreement negotiations would not compromise future access to inexpensive antiretroviral drugs (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 11/17/04).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.