Thai Health Ministry Outlines Options To Ensure Drug Access Amid Thai, U.S. Trade Talks
Thailand's Public Health Minister Suchai Charoenratanakul on Monday announced three ways the country could ensure access to antiretroviral drugs in light of ongoing talks with the United States about developing a bilateral free trade agreement between the two countries, the Bangkok Post reports (Apiradee/Phusadee, Bangkok Post, 6/21). A monthly regimen of generic antiretrovirals in Thailand currently costs about $30 per person, compared with $250 per patient for patented drugs, and some HIV/AIDS advocates are worried that the agreement could force Thailand's pharmaceutical industry to stop producing low-cost generic versions of antiretrovirals, thereby increasing the cost of treatment for HIV/AIDS patients (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 5/4). After hearing HIV/AIDS advocates' opposition to the plan for more than one year, Suchai has suggested that Thailand remove all drug-related issues from the agenda, alter the World Trade Organization-endorsed Doha Declaration aimed at overriding patents through compulsory licensing or parallel imports or postpone the free trade agreement indefinitely. Thai Commerce Minister Thanong Bidaya also urged negotiators to ensure that any potential free trade agreement not adversely affect Thailand's health system, the Post reports. He promised to include representatives from the Ministry of Public Health on Thailand's team of negotiators. Thai negotiators are expected to meet with U.S. officials for the fourth time in Montana beginning July 10 (Bangkok Post, 6/21).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.