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Thailand health minister stands firm against Big Pharma monopolistic profiteering

Wednesday, March 14, 2007 by: David Gutierrez, staff writer
Tags: Thailand, drug patents, intellectual property

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(NewsTarget) The health minister of Thailand, Mongkol na Songkhla, has announced that the country will override international drug patents if pharmaceutical companies do not significantly lower their prices to make medications affordable to the country's poor. Specifically, he cited drugs for cancer and heart disease.

Jump directly to: conventional view | alternative view | bottom line

What you need to know - Conventional View

• Mongkol said that most people in Thailand cannot afford patented drugs, and that the government cannot afford to subsidize them. This is why the government recently overrode patents on two HIV/AIDS drugs and one for heart disease, allowing generic production.

• This marked the first time that a Third World nation had overridden a patent on a heart medicine.

• Mongkol said that drug companies should re-negotiate their prices now, learning from the experience of Merck. The U.S.-based company had its patent for the HIV/AIDS drug Efavirenz overridden in November, and as a result Merck was recently forced to cut its prices by almost 50 percent.

• Because the government of Thailand is appointed by the military, Mongkol said he has nothing to lose by alienating the pharmaceutical companies. He said that he is not concerned about destroying the companies' profits, because they spend much more on marketing than on research and development.

• Quote: "We have to provide health services to 49 million people and with limited resources. Reaching the neglected poor is our main concern." - Mongkol na Songkhla

What you need to know - Alternative View

Statements and opinions by Mike Adams, author of Natural Health Solutions and the Conspiracy to Keep You From Knowing About Them

• Thailand's stance on drug patents is courageous and necessary, given the profiteering and monopolistic practices of drug companies who seek to extract obscene drug profits from some of the poorest people in the world.

• Drug companies are in business to make money, not to serve humanity. Profits win out over compassion every time.

• Medicine should not be patentable. Intellectual property is out of control in the modern world, with corporations owning patents on seeds, animals and even human gene sequences. These things should belong to the people, not greedy corporations.

Bottom line

• Thailand has threatened to override drug patents on heart and cancer medicine, in favor of generics, if pharmaceutical companies do not slash their prices.

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