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[e-drug] Generic ddI in Thailand at last

E-drug: Generic ddI in Thailand at last


The Thai Ministry of Public Health today announced that it will not
apply compulsory license but that it will let the Government
Pharmaceutical Organization (GPO) produce the powder of ddI. About
100 activists had gathered outside the Ministry of Public Health to
hear the decision of the Public Health Minister.

ddi powder is not patent protected in Thailand. One sachet will cost
$0.7 (equivalent to 150 mg); daily cost will therefore be $ 1.4
compared to currently about $ 3.7 No generic tablets will be available
because of the patent.

The problem with ddI is the expensive raw material because there is
only one relatively small supplier in Canada. Raw material from a
Japanese producer is only 55% of the cost but this is the BMS
supplier and BMS has prevented the company from selling to other
customers. If BMS would be interested to actually do something for
people they could offer ddI at a daily cost of probably less than $ 1.0!

No discount for the BMS product has been announced so far.

There are many open questions:

As reason for not applying compulsory license the Ministry of Public
Health quoted fear for a BMS law suit and lacking support from the
Dept of Intellectual Property. The Dept. of Intellectual Property said
that they were "worried" to use compulsory license but refused to
name reasons. Several activists questioned why compulsory license is
in the law if it can not be used.

The Public Health Minister was asked why ddI powder was not
produced already two years ago; he replied that he was not yet Health
Minister at that time.

The NGO network had demanded compulsory license for ddI since last
year and had also demanded the production of ddI powder as an
interim solution. NGO representatives will meet with the US
ambassador to Thailand tomorrow, Tuesday to hand over a letter to
President Clinton asking for a statement that the US government will
not interfere if Thailand uses compulsory license for ddI. 

Tido von Schoen-Angerer, MD
MSF Thailand

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