Thai HIV/AIDS Advocacy Group Meets With Commerce Secretary To Discuss Opposition to GSK Antiretroviral Patent Application
About 50 members of the Thai Network of People Living With HIV/AIDS on Tuesday met with Commerce Permanent Secretary Karun Kittisataporn to discuss the group's opposition to GlaxoSmithKline's patent application for its antiretroviral drug Combid, the Bangkok Post reports (Phusadee, Bangkok Post, 2/22). GSK applied for a patent for Combid in 1997, but the process stalled because of opposition from HIV/AIDS advocates, some of whom say that Combid is not an innovative drug because the company only added a new substance to an existing formula, making it ineligible for a patent (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 2/9). According to the Thai Network, about 4,000 people in the country currently each pay about $38 monthly for generic versions of Combid -- sold as Combivir in the U.S. and Europe -- and would have to pay about $203 monthly if the patent were approved (Bangkok Post, 2/22). In addition, the patent's approval could hamper access to the drug for more than 100,000 HIV-positive people in the country, according to the group. Karun, who also is the lead negotiator for a potential trade agreement between the U.S. and Thailand, said he would "pass the information" to the patent committee of the Intellectual Property Department, which is handling the application, adding, "The ministry will work on the basis of benefits for the Thai people" (Petchanet, Nation, 2/22). Karun also said that Thai Network members should not discount negotiations with GSK on the drug's price and that the Public Health Ministry could subsidize the drug's cost (ThaisNews, 2/22).This is part of the Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.