This blog covers the role that patents play in access to pharmaceuticals - HIV/AIDS in Thailand along with steps taken by government to overcome from current status of HIV/AIDS drugs. The measures which may help to improve access to HIV/AIDS drugs in the country through patent system.
HIV/AIDS Epidemic in Thailand
AIDS epidemic in Thailand, is because of its tarnished sex industry. There are approximately 500,000 HIV-positive people in Thailand out of a total population of 64.6 million. Thailand enjoys a "mid-tier" drug pricing status, which means Thai government pays less for HIV drugs in comparison to European or U.S. consumers.
Thailand has patent law since 1979, however, for pharmaceuticals, this law provided for process patents only. Huge backlogs of pharmaceutical patent applications are pending in Thailand due to variety of reasons. The delays are creating pressure on countries to expand their patent protection terms in order to access affordable medicines. In Thailand, it takes five to eight years for a patent to be examined. After submitting patent application the agency makes formal notification to public. Patent protection begins from the filing date and extends for up to 20 years. Many multinational drug companies often send legal notices to generic companies and hospitals which are producing / buying similar drug and warn them of the consequences they have to bear if the patent is granted.
Currently, it takes 5 to 15 years post introduction of original product for a generic version to come in the market which results in higher prices of patented drugs; which deprives the access to general public
Measures taken by Government
Governments, NGO's & activists have been fighting hard with the issues which affect access to life-saving medicines, and are trying to find solutions to these problems. Government is trying to create balance between encouraging innovation in the pharmaceutical sector through intellectual property protection and making life-saving drugs more widely available. They realize encouraging innovation in the pharmaceutical sector through patent system must be balanced with the urgent need to make life-saving medicines more widely available. Thailand hopes to be one of the first countries to end AIDS by 2030.
Government is constantly undertaking programs for public awareness regarding HIV-AIDS.
- HIV testing and counselling (HTC) and prevention programs are organized in Thailand
- HIV education and approach to safe sex education
- Preventing mother-to-child transmission
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