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ข่าวประจำวัน : Top drug firms delay investing here

Anger at govt plan to license generic drugs

BANGKOK POST and REUTERS

Giant pharmaceutical firms have put further investment in Thailand on hold in response to the Public Health Ministry's decision to seek compulsory licences for cheap versions of drugs to treat heart disease and Aids. ''Leading pharmaceutical manufacturers have been stunned by the statement and have confirmed that their plans for further investment in Thailand will be stalled pending a review of the foreign investment climate,'' Teera Chakajnarodom, president of the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers Association, said in a statement released yesterday.

The pharmaceutical industry's swift protest came after Public Health Minister Mongkol na Songkhla said on Wednesday that the government will press ahead with its plan for compulsory licensing to allow imports of generic versions of the drugs.

Dr Mongkol said this would alleviate some of the financial burden on the ministry and patients caused by the high cost of patented imported drugs.

The World Trade Organisation allows governments to declare a ''national emergency'' and produce or import generic versions of patented drugs.

Enraged pharmaceutical manufacturers lashed out at the decision, saying it would hit the basic guarantee of the safety of investors' assets. They accused the government of acting without consultation with the pharmaceutical industry.

''We fully appreciate the health challenges and financial constraints that the ministry faces. However, the best response to this situation is to engage constructively with industry to find a mutually agreeable solution,'' said Mr Teera.

He said the government's plan to force more companies to relinquish patents for heart and anti-Aids medicine would lead to the isolation of Thailand from the global biotechnology investment community.

''This step has undone the many years of work that biotechnology companies have undertaken to convince their head offices that Thailand is attractive for the life sciences industry,'' he said.

The international health promotion organisation Medicins Sans Frontieres (MSF), meanwhile, hailed the ministry's decision to issue a compulsory licence as a ''perfectly legal method ... to ensure access to essential drugs for Thai people''.

Paul Cawthorne, head of the MSF, said each Thai HIV/Aids patient spent about 11,580 baht a month for the Aids drug Kaletra. This could be cut by two thirds if there was a generic alternative.

ข่าวประจำวัน : 26 January 2007
แหล่งที่มา Bangkok Post
อ่าน 260





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