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Thailand approves production of patented HIV, cardiovascular drugs

The titles of these two articles – Thailand to break AIDS, heart drugs patents from ETNA (Thailand) and Thailand backs patent drug copies from the BBC – suggest different actions on behalf of the Thai government, but they both report on the same: Thailand has approved production of patented HIV and cardiovascular pharmaceuticals.  The drugs in question are Kaletra, an antiretroviral protease inhibitor produced by Abbott Laboratories, and Plavix, an anti-clotting agent from Sanofi-Aventis and Bristol-Myers Squibb.

From the ETNA article:

BANGKOK, Jan 30 (TNA) – The Thai Public Health Ministry confirmed Monday that it has issued compulsory licenses for the production of two drugs, one for the treatment of HIV/AIDS and another for a cardiovascular drug, paving the way for immediate production and imports of lower-cost generic versions.

… 

[Thai Public Health Minister Dr Mongkol na Songkhla] said the decision to break the patents was not taken lightly but the move was necessary to ensure that the affected Thai patients have access to cheaper generic versions of the life-saving drugs.

He added that generic production of Plavix, for instance, would reduce the cost from about 70 baht (US$2.06) a pill to less than six baht (18 cents).

This is the second time Thailand’s military-backed government has broken an international drug patent in the interest of the health needs of the country’s poor.

In November it introduced Thailand’s first compulsory licencing for Merck’s Efavirenz anti-retroviral AIDS treatment.

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