Sunday, June 9, 2013
First Thai ARV compulsory license
Thailand has announced plans to issue a compulsory licence for Merck's drug Efaverenz. The drug is patented and used to treat HIV/AIDS. South East Asia has gradually been exercising its rights to do this over recent years - see here. Thailand has issued licenses for other drugs, but this is the first for an anti-retroviral.
Medecins Sans Frontiers has come out in support, while Merck is said to be keen to try to persuade the Bangkok government to reverse the decision by offering alternative pricing and supply. Merck argues it was not consulted and has already supplied on a non-profit basis, since Thailand has one of the lowest prices for the drug in the world.
Over a half a million people are believed to suffer from HIV/AIDS in Thailand. With some 84,000 Thai AIDS patients receiving state-funded (through the Government Pharma Organisation or GPO) treatment, Thailand is hoping to treat up to 150,000 within a few years. Initially this is with first line generics, but second line patented treatments will increasingly be needed, of which Efaverenz is the first. Although an Indian generic maker will provide the initial supply, the GPO will eventually produce the drug.