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MSF hails Thai AIDS drug move

6th December 2006

The Paris-based humanitarian group Medicins Sans Frontieres (MSF) has welcomed a move by the Thai government paving the way for the import of a cheaper supply of a key HIV/AIDS drug from India.

"The drug efavirenz, recommended by the WHO for HIV/AIDS treatment, is currently patent protected in Thailand, and the monopolistic situation has affected both supply and affordability in the country," the group said in a statement on its website.

It said patent-holders and manufacturers Merck had been charging US $41/month for the drug, double the prices asked by Indian generic manufacturers. Supply had also proved unreliable, it said.

MSF said the compulsory licence would allow Thailand to import generic efavirenz from India, halving the costs for this drug and expanding procurement options to ensure sustainable drug supply.

In 2002, Thailand launched a generic version of HIV/AIDS triple therapy, resulting in an 18-fold drop in the cost of treatment. "Thanks to this, over 85,000 people with HIV/AIDS are today receiving treatment," MSF said.

Thailand is developing its own generic production capacity for efavirenz through the country's public drug manufacturer, the Government Pharmaceutical Organisation (GPO). Production is expected to begin next year.

 

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