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Pattaya Daily News

09 May 2007 :: 11:05:14 am 30844

Clinton Supports Developing Nations’ Drug Patent-Busting

Former US President Bill Clinton is the latest international heavyweight to put his influence behind the fight by developing countries to acquire desperately needed anti-retroviral drugs without having to pay prices that ex-President Clinton described as "exorbitant," despite contrary claims by the pharmaceutical companies that the prices charged are reasonable.
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Mr. Clinton said that he backed Thailand and Brazil in their recent decisions to award compulsory licenses to generic brands of anti-HIV/AIDS drugs, Thailand’s Health Minister, Mongkol Na Songkhla, claimed on Wednesday. “I strongly support the position of the governments of Thailand and Brazil and their decision after futile negotiations to break these patents,” Clinton reportedly stated.

Thailand is in an anomalous position as, despite being a developing nation, it is ranked as being a middle-income country and doesn’t qualify fully for international medical aid. Currently in Thailand, 9 Thai national die of Aids every hour, and 500 contract the condition everyday. Accordingly, since November, 2006, the Thai Government attempted to improvise in this crucial fight against HIV /AIDS.

Thailand broke the patent on Efavirenz produced by US pharmaceutical company MerckSharp & Dohme, last November, and decided to follow suite for Kaletra, another anti-HIV/AIDS treatment made by US firm Abbott Laboratories, andPlavis, a blood-thinning drug made by Sanofi-Aventis, in January 2007.

Public Health Minister Mongkol Na Songkhla is currently in New York to to explain Thailand’s rationale in awarding compulsory licensing – a legal action to break patent protection allowed under World Trade Organization (WTO) rules. Mr. Mongkol also went to New York to sign an agreement with the Clinton Foundation and 16 other developing countries to arrange cheap bulk purchases of essential anti-retroviral drugs.

Apparently, Mr Clinton is involved in a deal with two Indian drugs firms to cheaply produce HIV/Aids drugs for 66 countries. The Clinton Foundation’s agreement will cut the cost of what are known as second line anti-retrovirals by 25-50%. Second line drugs are used when cheaper and earlier forms of treatment prove ineffectual. Mr Clinton says the prices of second-line treatments negotiated by his foundation will fall on average by 25 per cent in low-income countries and 50 per cent in middle-income countries.

  The pharmaceutical companies claim their high drug prices are driven by a need to sustain future innovation and recoup their huge investments in research and development of new drugs.

Reporter : PDN staff   Photo : Internet   Category : World News

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