Thai Government To Issue Compulsory Licenses for Two More Drugs, Health Minister Says
Thai Health Minister Mongkol Na Songkhla announced on Monday that the government is considering issuing compulsory licenses for two more patented drugs, AFP/Yahoo! News reports. Mongkol declined to give further details, but he previously has said that he will include more antiretroviral drugs and cancer medications in the country's generic drug program, according to AFP/Yahoo! News (AFP/Yahoo! News, 5/28).
The Thai government in November 2006 and January issued compulsory licenses to produce lower-cost versions of Merck's antiretroviral Efavirenz and Abbott Laboratories' Kaletra, respectively. Since then, the government and drug companies have continued negotiations. Abbott earlier this month offered to sell Aluvia, an updated version of Kaletra, at a reduced price in Thailand on the condition that the country agrees not to allow generic versions of the drug into the market, Siriwat Thiptaradol, secretary-general of Thailand's Food and Drug Administration, said. Abbott offered to sell Aluvia for about 34,000 baht, or $1,000, per person annually. Indian generic drug maker Matrix Laboratories has offered to sell a generic version of Aluvia to Thailand for 24,324 baht, or $695, per person annually. Siriwat said that Mongkol would consider the offer. Under the terms of the offer, Thailand would have to agree not to seek compulsory licensing for Aluvia and the price of Aluvia could not be reduced any further (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 5/24).
Mongkol on Monday said that during the remaining six months of his term as health minister, he will issue compulsory licenses for drugs that are "needed to save the lives of the poor." He added, "Altogether, we will impose compulsory licensing on up to five necessary drugs." Mongkol also said the decision to expand the country's generic drug program is "not a threat, but an appeal to the drug companies to have sympathy for the poor." He added, "One price for the rich and one price for the poor. At the end, it will be win-win for everyone" (Chalathip, Reuters, 5/28).
According to Mongkol, the move to issue additional compulsory licenses will not made until after July 1, when the status of Thai exports on the U.S. Trade Representative's Generalized System of Preferences list is announced, the Bangkok Post reports (Bangkok Post, 5/29).