/* mobile /* end mobile MEDDESKTOP: Thailand By Passes Patents on Cancer Drugs to cut the cost of medicines for the Thai people.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Thailand By Passes Patents on Cancer Drugs to cut the cost of medicines for the Thai people.

Thailand's new health minister announced that he would urge the Thai government to continue to ignore patents on several cancer drugs, disappointing big pharmaceutical companies that had hoped Bangkok might roll back a policy of overriding patents in the name of public health.

The drugs' makers include Roche Holding AG and Novartis AG of Switzerland and Sanofi-Aventis of France.

Suphan Srithamma, a spokesman for the Thai health ministry, said that Minister Chaiya Sasomsup has decided to support the previous government's decision to ignore cancer-drug patents in a bid to cut the cost of medicines for the Thai people. The health ministry will make its recommendation to the Thai cabinet today, according to Dr. Suphan.

Thailand's previous health minister, Mongkol na Songkhla, decided in early January to issue compulsory licenses (a policy that permits lower-cost generics) for four drugs: Novartis's imatinib, also known as Gleevec; Novartis's breast-cancer drug letrozole, whose brand name is Femara; Sanofi-Aventis's docetaxel, marketed as Taxotere and used to fight lung and breast cancer; and Roche's erlotinib, whose trade name is Tarceva.

Continue to read at Wall Street Journal


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