04 February, 2007

Health activists hail Thailand’s patent violations:
Efavirenz AIDS drug to be copied

Thailand has always been adept at imitation. The round logo of the american Starbucks Coffee chain has been “borrowed” by Wawee Coffee. Incidentally, Wawee’s coffee is much better than Starbucks: in this photo it assists Marie to figure out how to type a cool sms txt msg to her family in Stingraylia.

Luckily, we don’t personally need anti-HIV drugs like so many less fortunate people - good coffee and brisk walks are our drugs-of-choice. But many thousands of Thais, as in other countries, have had little choice (untill now) but to lie back and die helplessly because they couldn’t afford to pay for Plavix, Kaletra, or Efavirenz.

Well, now they can afford it, because Thailand’s new government has found the courage to stand up to the USA Pharmeceutical Lobby, on the grounds that Lives and epidemic control are more important than Corporate Profits. Thailand is to manufacture its own much cheaper copies of the medicines for its citizens... yee-haa!

Thai authorities have cited a 2001 WTO agreement which allows countries affected by serious diseases (such as HIV/AIDS, Malaria and TB) a temporary exemption from laws protecting intellectual property rights.

International health activists and global organizations such as Medecins sans Frontiers have hailed the Thai decision. FunkyPix2 also joins in the applause. Naturally, america is not amused, but hey, dat’s da law, buddy – get used to it. Justice is finally being done. It’s also a symbolic (if hardly fatal) blow to Globalisation, and the argument that loss of revenue will inhibit medical research has more holes than old Swiss cheese.

Learn more in my earlier blog post about Thailand’s past struggle to deal with HIV/AIDS.

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