September 24, 2007
Patents on some cancer drugs may be overridden
Thailand, which has overridden international patents on three drugs in the past year, plans to issue four more licences for copycat versions of cancer medicines, Health Ministry officials said on Monday.
The government would impose compulsory licences on four drugs sold by Novartis (NOVN.VX: Quote, Profile , Research), Sanofi-Aventis (SASY.PA: Quote, Profile , Research) and Roche (ROG.VX: Quote, Profile , Research) if negotiations with the global pharmaceutical giants to lower prices failed, they said.
"We have picked these four drugs because patients have great difficulties to access them; they are very expensive," Sanguan Nitayarumphong, head of the ministry's agency responsible for free treatment for the poor, told Reuters.
"If the negotiations with the drug firms fail, we will have to declare compulsory licensing," Sanguan said.
Previous compulsory licences on HIV/AIDS and heart disease drugs, which Thailand says are legal under World Trade Organisation rules, drew flak from big drug makers, Washington and Brussels, but applause from HIV/AIDS advocacy groups.
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