Contestation Over the Ownership, Use, and Control of Knowledge and Information
Edited by Sebastian Haunss and Kenneth C. Shadlen
Chapter 3: The Politics of Patents: Conditions of Implementation of Public Health Policy in Thailand
Gaëlle Krikorian INTRODUCTION At the end of 2006, the Thai Minister of Public Health, Mongkol Na Songkhla, made the decision to override patent protection by implementing article 51 of the Thai Patent Act on an HIV/AIDS medication, in order to generate – through import and local production – the necessary generic supplies. In doing so, he made use of a provision called compulsory licensing. Soon thereafter, Thailand came under attack; hailing from the American administration, the US Congress, and multinational companies, the critics were virulent. For Harvey Bale, director of the International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers and Associations (IFPMA), “Compulsory licensing can be a route to commercial abuse and can put patients at risk” (Kazmin and Jack, 2007). In recent years, most of the developing country members of the World Trade Organization (WTO) have implemented the standards of “intellectual property” (IP) protection1 required by the organization. One of the consequences is 20-year patent protection on medicine, which forbids production, importation, or marketing of generics for this duration. Studies have highlighted the negative impact of this increased IP protection on access to health products in these countries (Subramanian, 1995; Remiche and Desterbecq, 1996; Velásquez and Boulet, 1999; Correa, 2000). In response to these concerns, and in particular in reaction to the international mobilization for access to anti-HIV medicines, the issue of how IP in pharmaceuticals affects access to medicines and public health became the subject of intense debate at the WTO. This debate led to the 2001 adoption of the Doha...
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