Thai Health Minister To Maintain Compulsory Licenses Issued by the Country
Thailand's Public Health Minister Chaiya Sasomsap on Monday announced that he will encourage the government to continue with its compulsory license program, the Wall Street Journal reports (Zamiska, Wall Street Journal, 3/11).
Chaiya early last month announced that he had invited a committee to review the legality of compulsory licenses issued by former Thai Public Health Minister Mongkol Na Songkhla. Mongkol had issued compulsory licenses for the antiretroviral drugs Aluvia and Efavirenz, as well as other medications. Chaiya later announced that Siriwat Thiptharadon, head of Thailand's Food and Drug Administration and an engineer of the former government's compulsory license program, had been removed from his post (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 2/28).
Chaiya on Monday said, "The findings have convinced me to go ahead with the compulsory licenses since the ministry's policy is to give patients good access to quality drugs at cheap prices." He added that the compulsory licenses on the cancer drugs included in Monday's announcement would save the country more than three billion baht, or about $100 million, over the next five years (Wong-Anan, Reuters, 3/10). According to Suphan Srithamma, a spokesperson for the Ministry of Public Health, the ministry planned to make its recommendation to the country's Cabinet on Tuesday.
Teera Chakajnarodom, president of Thailand's Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturer's Association, condemned the decision, the Journal reports. "This is not good for the country. The image of Thailand will drop further," he said, adding, "They should bring back the image of Thailand as a country that respects" intellectual property rights (Wall Street Journal, 3/11).