Thursday, May 10, 2007

Bill Clinton still doesn't get economics.

Medical: When a former US President happily supports breaking of drug patents which do costs the companies R&D money in the hundreds of millions or billions of dollars, I have to question his sanity.

Former US president Bill Clinton has backed Thailand's decision to award compulsory licences to generic brands of anti-HIV/Aids drugs, Public Health Minister Dr Mongkol na Songkhla said yesterday.

His comments followed the announcement by Clinton yesterday of a deal, reached in partnership with international drugs organisation Unitaid and generic drug manufacturers Cipla and Matrix, that would drastically reduce the cost of second line anti-retroviral HIV/Aids medicines for 66 developing nations in Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean.

"I strongly support the position of the governments of Thailand and Brazil and their decisions after futile negotiations to break these patents," Mongkol quoted Clinton as saying.

Speaking in a telephone interview from the United States yesterday, Mongkol said it was an honour for the country to be supported by the former president.

Fine and when the drug companies stop researching or make the drugs because they can't afford to make money to pay for operations, then what is Clinton going to endorse next as a great move? Argue about the price and failed negotiations, but encouraging countries to break patents on American made products is a slap in the face and sets a bad precedent for other American industries.

Via the Guardian

The US recently added Thailand to its annual priority watch list of nations where American companies face particular problems protecting intellectual property rights.

Countries on the list are under extra scrutiny and could face trade sanctions if violations worsen.

"We want to explain that it was an unfair punishment," said Mr Mongkol.

He said Thailand's decision had not broken any international or domestic law. According to World Trade Organisation agreements, governments can issue compulsory drug licenses for non-commercial use in their countries, allowing the manufacture, import and sale of cheaper generic versions of patented drugs in case of a national public health emergency.

How about Thailand and Brazil then pony up the R&D money to cover the costs of making the drugs so when they decide to break patent, the drug companies won't be screwed over so much.

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