SPICY IP Tidbit: WHO Report on TRIPs Flexibilities and Access to Medicines in Thailand

In WHOs recent mission to Thailand saw the release of a 31-page report entitled “Improving access to medicines in Thailand: The use of TRIPs flexibilities.” According to a recent news item, the report “provides technical information and policy options on the general rules and mechanisms available to countries for use of the flexibilities contained in the Trips and other international agreements, in order to promote greater access to pharmaceutical products.”

The report specifically highlights the flexibilities in the TRIPs agreement pertaining to compulsory licensing and Government use: “The use of compulsory licences and government-use provisions to improve access to medicines is one of several cost-containment mechanisms that may be used for patented essential medicines not affordable to the people or to public health insurance schemes…

Readers will recall that earlier this month, Thailand’s Health Minister Chaiya Sasomsap announced that he would review the compulsory licenses announced by the previous military-appointed government. (See report here) According to him, the decision to grant compulsory licenses on four cancer drugs, two HIV-AIDS medicines and a heart treatment “…might have been a politically correct decision, but not legally correct….” Just a week prior to this statement, in a news interview, Thailand’s outgoing Health Minister Mongkol na Songkhla “defended his unprecedented challenge of foreign drug patent rights, saying the poor would lose if a new government reversed the policy

SpicyIP reported on Thai Compulsory Licenses here and here. Watch this space for a more detailed analysis on the WHO report as soon as we can get our hands on it!

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