Thai Government Says Free Trade Agreement Negotiations With U.S. Will Not Impact Access to Antiretroviral Drugs
The Thai government on Tuesday assured HIV/AIDS patients and advocates in the country that free trade agreement negotiations with the United States would not compromise future access to inexpensive antiretroviral drugs, the Bangkok Post reports (Hutasingh, Bangkok Post, 11/16). A group of protesters from Thailand and other countries held a rally in July during the XV International AIDS Conference in Bangkok, Thailand, to call for increased access to antiretroviral drugs and an end to free trade negotiations between Thailand and the United States, saying that such agreements could protect U.S. patents on antiretrovirals. The demonstrators presented a letter to the Thai government, the World Health Organization, UNAIDS and International AIDS Society former President Joep Lange -- who was co-chair of the conference -- demanding that the Thai government ensure antiretroviral drug coverage and avoid signing free-trade agreements (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 7/12). The United States wants data on U.S. drugs and other high-tech products imported into Thailand to be protected for a longer time period than is allowed under World Trade Organization rules, meaning Thailand would have to rely on more costly imported drugs, according to the Post. Thai AIDS advocates worry that any pact would result in stricter protection of intellectual property rights and limited access to antiretroviral treatment in the country. Another round of talks is scheduled for Dec. 13 to 17 in Hawaii. No agreements are expected during the December meeting because proposals must be discussed by certain organizations and agencies before any deal can be signed, according to the Post (Bangkok Post, 11/16).This is part of the Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.