U.S. Lawmakers Should Not Condone Efforts by Thailand To Issue Compulsory Licenses for Antiretrovirals, Opinion Piece Says
U.S. lawmakers should not praise Thailand and other countries for issuing compulsory licenses to manufacture generic versions of patented antiretroviral drugs, Sally Pipes -- president and CEO of the Pacific Research Institute, which partially is funded by the pharmaceutical industry -- writes in an opinion piece in The Hill.
In a "staggering display of cluelessness," Rep. Tom Allen (D-Maine) and Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) have sponsored a resolution that praises the Thai government for its decision to issue compulsory licenses and urges Congress not to enforce intellectual property standards, according to Pipes, who also serves as a health care adviser to former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, who is running for the Republican presidential nomination writes. Allen and Brown think that Thailand is "playing the role of Robin Hood ... by stealing property rights from the companies that develop" antiretrovirals, Pipes writes, adding that such a view is "criminally naive."
Although the "Thai population is suffering from an AIDS epidemic," the country's government is "more interested in using this crisis to steal patents and develop its own drug business than providing Thai patients with the effective cures," according to Pipes. Thailand's actions "threaten to upset the economic incentives that allow Western firms to produce novel cures," she writes, adding, "Without patent protections, the drug industry as we know it would collapse, and development of new drugs would be significantly curtailed."
By encouraging the U.S. to allow other nations to issue compulsory licenses, Brown and Allen would "slaughter the goose that lays the golden eggs of medical innovation," Pipes writes, adding, "If this trend grows," the world "can say goodbye to the next AIDS cure," and that is "not something" Congress should "commend" (Pipes, The Hill, 10/18).