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Thailand Reduces Costs of HIV/AIDS Medication


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#1 Gaybutton

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Posted 30 November 2006 - 03:14 PM

BANGKOK, Nov 30 (TNA)

Thailand's Ministry of Public Health announced on Wednesday that it would invoke the compulsory licensing clause in the Patent Act to allow for lower-cost local production of the life-saving anti-viral drug, Efavirenz, which is needed by thousands of people living with HIV/AIDs. So far, most people with AIDS have been priced out of the market.

The move is expected to save thousands of lives in Thailand, and to raise the quality of life for families who have been forced to use up limited family income for medications.

The decision, with immediate effect, will pave the way for the Government Pharmaceutical Organisation (GPO) to mass-produce a cheaper version of the drug for local use. Production is expected to start in June next year.

The compulsory licensing would be valid for only five years but Public Health Minister Mongkol Na Songkhla told reporters that the move was necessary given the growing number of people with HIV/Aids and the government limited budget.

Thailand is one of a few countries in the world which provides free or low-cost anti-viral treatments to AIDS patients.

"This drug is more effective than others and its users show few side effects. Although it is still under patent protection, it is needed to save lives and help us cope with the growing public health crisis caused by AIDS," the minister said.

At the current market price, only one in four patients in Thailand have access to Efavirenz. Compulsory licensing of the drug is expected to enable the National Health Security Office to increase the number of HIV-infected people who receive the drug through state channels to about 100,000, a substantial increase from the current 25,000 people with AIDS who now are helped.

There are over one million people living with HIV/AIDs in Thailand, about half of them need to use the anti-viral treatments.

Under the agreement, the patent owner would be paid 0.5 per cent of sales from the GPO as compensation. Thai patent law allows state enforced compulsory licensing in the case of drugs being critically needed to save people's lives, providing that the state is unable to afford to subsidise them.

(TNA)-E110




#2 GayThailand

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Posted 30 November 2006 - 08:57 PM

That is good news. Also today:


Clinton launches child HIV drug
http://www.cnn.com/2...s.ap/index.html

NEW DELHI, India (AP) -- Former President Bill Clinton and two Indian pharmaceutical companies have struck an agreement to cut prices of HIV and AIDS treatment for children, making the lifesaving drugs far more accessible worldwide, Clinton's foundation's anti-AIDS initiative said.

The companies will supply drugs for HIV-positive children at prices as low as 16 cents a day, or less than $60 a year, according to a statement by the Clinton Foundation HIV/AIDS Initiative.

The deal will enable an additional 100,000 HIV-positive children in 62 countries to receive treatment in 2007, the foundation said.

Clinton was to announce the deal in a speech at a New Delhi children's hospital Thursday at the launch of a new national program by the Indian government to treat HIV-positive children. World AIDS Day is Friday.

Under the agreement, the two companies -- Cipla Ltd. and Ranbaxy Laboratories Ltd. -- will supply 19 different antiretroviral formulations for prices about 45 percent less than the lowest current rates for these drugs in developing countries, the statement said.

"Though the world has made progress in expanding HIV/AIDS treatment to adults, children have been left behind. Only one in 10 children who needs treatment is getting it," Clinton said in a statement.

In January, Clinton negotiated the reduction of prices of rapid HIV tests and anti-AIDS drugs for adults. Several Indian firms were involved in that deal, too.

Under the deal, countries including France, Brazil, Chile, Norway and Britain will provide $35 million and the Clinton Foundation HIV/AIDS Initiative will contribute $15 million.

The drugs will be supplied to the countries where the children live, for distribution through public health and HIV/AIDS prevention programs.

Clinton was to speak at the Kalawati Saran Hospital, one of New Delhi's busiest hospitals for children. India, with 5.7 million HIV-positive people, has the highest number of cases in the world.

The new India-specific deal to be announced Thursday would provide HIV treatment for 10,000 Indian children by March 2007 by adding pediatric care to all adult HIV and AIDS treatment centers in the country.

Clinton, whose two-year appointment as U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan's special tsunami envoy ends December 31, is visiting India, Cambodia, Thailand and Indonesia -- among the countries hardest hit by the Indian Ocean tsunami that killed more than 216,000 people in 12 countries in December 2004.

#3 Gaybutton

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Posted 02 December 2006 - 05:32 AM

The following appears in THE NATION:
_____

Merck to Offer AIDS Drug Price Cut to Thailand

Merck & Co. Inc. will offer to cut the price of a key anti-HIV drug in Thailand in an attempt to stop that country's government from using cheaper generic suppliers and overriding the U.S. drug giant's patents, the Financial Times reported on its website Thursday.

A spokesman for Merck's local unit, MSD Thailand, said the company would seek talks with health officials to propose discounts or a "voluntary" license to the Thai government pharmaceuticals organization to produce generic versions of its drug, Efavirenz.

Merck's move follows Thailand's surprise decision this week to threaten a "compulsory license" for Efavirenz to overturn Merck's patents, raising fears by western pharmaceutical companies of a significant challenge to their intellectual property.

#4 Aunty

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Posted 02 December 2006 - 07:46 PM

It's good that Merck will sell its HIV drugs in Thailand cheaper hopefully stoping Thailand from 'patent busting' and in effect stealing Merck's intellectual property, but this does raise a wider issue. Given that it now costs about US$800,000,000 to bring a drug to market (for any disease), who’s going to pay a drug company’s massive bills to develop new medicines if they can’t make a profit on those drugs because developing countries are willing to bust the patient and make those compounds for next to nothing, without paying a satang to the drug company for it? Will there even be new medicines in the future if the drug companies have to be looking over their shoulder to see whether or not India is going to rip them off? Did you know that when it comes to antibacterials we are already in crisis and there are no new drugs in the pipeline? Not worried? You should be.

Should drug companies be forced to do in effect pro bono work for the third world? Why just drug companies? Why not the car industry, first world universities, our hospitals, the entertainment industry, telecommunications, Luis Vuiton handbags? Why shouldn’t these companies have to give their products and services away for free to the third world too? What, because they don’t ‘save lives’? Well condom’s save lives. So too does legalising prostitution and empowering sex workers with rights. Why won’t the third world do that?

Perhaps instead of ripping off drug companies Thailand could undertake a thorough program of Aids prevention within its borders, starting with sex education classes in schools. How to correctly use condoms to stop the spread of Aids and why they are needed every time. Making condoms freely available at all sex venues (and mandatory) and passing laws that empower sex workers with the right to say no to any customer and at any time. Instituting programs that educate sex workers about HIV/AIDS and how to keep themselves safe wouldn’t go amiss either.

Of course Thailand, or India, or China, or any of a number of countries won’t do that because doing that doesn’t have the political win win written all over it that standing up to rich fat Western drug companies that are ‘exploiting the poor, sick and vulnerable in the third world to make money’, even though this approach is like putting the proverbial ambulance at the bottom of the cliff rather than at the top. To actually institute social changes which go against centuries of backward, intolerant, ignorant, oppressive, religious and social mores that bread noting but poverty and misery is just way too hard. No, it’s much easier to put the boot into the West in the guise of’ caring for ‘our’ people and ‘saving lives’.

And who pays for all of this at the end of the day? You and I do.


#5 colinr

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Posted 04 December 2006 - 10:00 PM

The high prices charged by western drug companies are due more to their advertising bills than to research. Not to mention greed. And a lot of their research is frivolous - to produce new medicines for rich people to cure conditions they didn't know they had, until they read the adverts or were talked into buying by their doctor, previously nobbled by the drug companies with free gifts etc. Where's the research on eg malaria? Research does not anyway depend on the companies; I believe the HIV drugs were produced originally by US Government laboratories and then handed to the companies to produce and market.





#6 Aunty

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Posted 06 December 2006 - 03:51 AM

I'm aware that there are a number of people who hold similar views to yourself colinr, but you are mistaken if you think that the major cost component of a new drug's price is in its advertising costs.

I think the following article from the New York Times about Pfizer's recent decision to pull from clinical trial a heart drug goes a long way to addressing many of your claims about drug companies which are quite incorrect.

By the way HIV drugs were not produced in US Govt. laboratories and then handed over to drug companies to produce and produce, or are you talking about the same US Govt. lab's that supposedly created the HIV virus back in the 80's in the first place? That was a popular conspiracy theory of the time too.


End of Drug Trial Is a Big Loss for Pfizer and Heart Patients

By Alex Berenson | December 4, 2006
The news came to Pfizer’s chief scientist, Dr. John L. LaMattina, as he was showering at 7 a.m. Saturday: the company’s most promising experimental drug, intended to treat heart disease, actually caused an increase in deaths and heart problems. Eighty-two people had died so far in a clinical trial, versus 51 people in the same trial who had not taken it.

Within hours, Pfizer, the world’s largest drug maker, told more than 100 trial investigators to stop giving patients the drug, called torcetrapib. Shortly after 9 p.m. Saturday, Pfizer announced that it had pulled the plug on the medicine entirely, turning the company’s nearly $1 billion investment in it into a total loss.
The abrupt decision to discontinue torcetrapib was a shocking disappointment for Pfizer and for people who suffer from heart disease. The drug, which has been in development since the early 1990s, raises so-called good cholesterol, and cardiologists had hoped it would reduce the buildup of plaques in blood vessels that can cause heart attacks. Just last Thursday, Pfizer’s chief executive, Jeffrey B. Kindler, said publicly that the drug could be among the most important new developments for heart disease in decades and that the company hoped to get Food and Drug Administration approval for it in 2007.
“I’m terribly disappointed,” said Dr. Steven E. Nissen, chairman of cardiovascular medicine at the Cleveland Clinic and lead investigator of an earlier torcetrapib clinical trial. “This drug, if it worked, would probably have been the largest-selling pharmaceutical in history.”
For people with heart disease, torcetrapib’s failure means that progress may be slowing after two decades of substantial advances against the disease. Medicines to lower blood pressure and bad cholesterol are already effective and widely used, yet heart disease remains the biggest cause of death in the United States, killing 911,000 people in 2003, according to the American Heart Association.
Because the torcetrapib-related deaths occurred during a clinical trial, before the drug reached the market, Pfizer will not face the product liability lawsuits that have dogged Merck over its painkiller, Vioxx. Merck withdrew Vioxx, a best-selling arthritis drug, after evidence emerged that it could cause heart strokes and heart attacks. Patients in clinical trials must sign waivers confirming that they understand the risks they face when they take unapproved medicines in clinical trials.
Scientists had seen torcetrapib as the vanguard of a new wave of medicines that would give physicians new ways to reduce heart disease by raising good cholesterol, following the success of medicines called statins, drugs like Lipitor that work by inhibiting the production of so-called bad cholesterol. These drugs, which include Pfizer’s Lipitor, are among the best-selling drugs in the world with tens of billions of dollars in annual sales.

Continued...

That's a billion dollars Pfizer's lost without having sold even one pill to one patient! Where's that money from??

Moreover if that drug had made it to market, all that outlay will need to be recovered in the list price of the drug, and all that preclinical and clinical development costs have nothing to do with advertising. It's hugely expensive and risky to make drugs! As far as advertising goes though how else is a doctor in the middle of Montana or Western Australia, or a busy clinician in a downtown hospital or city practice supposed to find out about a new drug if the drug companies don’t tell her/him about it? (Advertise) And shouldn't consumers also have the right to be informed about the medicines available to them so they can therefore have a more informed discussion with their doctor about what’s the best medicine for them to take for their condition? (There are only two countries in the world with direct to patient advertising of pharmaceuticals by the way, New Zealand and the USA).

If you wish to read the rest of the article, and I recommend you do, here's the link. If you also do a bit of extra reading about this drug failure you will see that it will cause layoffs at Pfizer and that its share price has already taken a hammering. Some people will have lost money, and they won't all be multimillionaires!


http://www.boston.co...heart_patients/


#7 colinr

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Posted 06 December 2006 - 10:09 PM

QUOTE(Aunty @ Dec 6 2006, 03:51 AM) View Post

I'm aware that there are a number of people who hold similar views to yourself colinr, but you are mistaken if you think that the major cost component of a new drug's price is in its advertising costs.

I think the following article from the New York Times about Pfizer's recent decision to pull from clinical trial a heart drug goes a long way to addressing many of your claims about drug companies which are quite incorrect.

By the way HIV drugs were not produced in US Govt. laboratories and then handed over to drug companies to produce and produce, or are you talking about the same US Govt. lab's that supposedly created the HIV virus back in the 80's in the first place? That was a popular conspiracy theory of the time too.
End of Drug Trial Is a Big Loss for Pfizer and Heart Patients

By Alex Berenson | December 4, 2006
The news came to Pfizer’s chief scientist, Dr. John L. LaMattina, as he was showering at 7 a.m. Saturday: the company’s most promising experimental drug, intended to treat heart disease, actually caused an increase in deaths and heart problems. Eighty-two people had died so far in a clinical trial, versus 51 people in the same trial who had not taken it.

Within hours, Pfizer, the world’s largest drug maker, told more than 100 trial investigators to stop giving patients the drug, called torcetrapib. Shortly after 9 p.m. Saturday, Pfizer announced that it had pulled the plug on the medicine entirely, turning the company’s nearly $1 billion investment in it into a total loss.
The abrupt decision to discontinue torcetrapib was a shocking disappointment for Pfizer and for people who suffer from heart disease. The drug, which has been in development since the early 1990s, raises so-called good cholesterol, and cardiologists had hoped it would reduce the buildup of plaques in blood vessels that can cause heart attacks. Just last Thursday, Pfizer’s chief executive, Jeffrey B. Kindler, said publicly that the drug could be among the most important new developments for heart disease in decades and that the company hoped to get Food and Drug Administration approval for it in 2007.
“I’m terribly disappointed,” said Dr. Steven E. Nissen, chairman of cardiovascular medicine at the Cleveland Clinic and lead investigator of an earlier torcetrapib clinical trial. “This drug, if it worked, would probably have been the largest-selling pharmaceutical in history.”
For people with heart disease, torcetrapib’s failure means that progress may be slowing after two decades of substantial advances against the disease. Medicines to lower blood pressure and bad cholesterol are already effective and widely used, yet heart disease remains the biggest cause of death in the United States, killing 911,000 people in 2003, according to the American Heart Association.
Because the torcetrapib-related deaths occurred during a clinical trial, before the drug reached the market, Pfizer will not face the product liability lawsuits that have dogged Merck over its painkiller, Vioxx. Merck withdrew Vioxx, a best-selling arthritis drug, after evidence emerged that it could cause heart strokes and heart attacks. Patients in clinical trials must sign waivers confirming that they understand the risks they face when they take unapproved medicines in clinical trials.
Scientists had seen torcetrapib as the vanguard of a new wave of medicines that would give physicians new ways to reduce heart disease by raising good cholesterol, following the success of medicines called statins, drugs like Lipitor that work by inhibiting the production of so-called bad cholesterol. These drugs, which include Pfizer’s Lipitor, are among the best-selling drugs in the world with tens of billions of dollars in annual sales.

Continued...

That's a billion dollars Pfizer's lost without having sold even one pill to one patient! Where's that money from??

Moreover if that drug had made it to market, all that outlay will need to be recovered in the list price of the drug, and all that preclinical and clinical development costs have nothing to do with advertising. It's hugely expensive and risky to make drugs! As far as advertising goes though how else is a doctor in the middle of Montana or Western Australia, or a busy clinician in a downtown hospital or city practice supposed to find out about a new drug if the drug companies don’t tell her/him about it? (Advertise) And shouldn't consumers also have the right to be informed about the medicines available to them so they can therefore have a more informed discussion with their doctor about what’s the best medicine for them to take for their condition? (There are only two countries in the world with direct to patient advertising of pharmaceuticals by the way, New Zealand and the USA).

If you wish to read the rest of the article, and I recommend you do, here's the link. If you also do a bit of extra reading about this drug failure you will see that it will cause layoffs at Pfizer and that its share price has already taken a hammering. Some people will have lost money, and they won't all be multimillionaires!
http://www.boston.co...heart_patients/


#8 colinr

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Posted 06 December 2006 - 10:44 PM

QUOTE(Aunty @ Dec 6 2006, 03:51 AM) View Post

I'm aware that there are a number of people who hold similar views to yourself colinr, but you are mistaken if you think that the major cost component of a new drug's price is in its advertising costs.

I think the following article from the New York Times about Pfizer's recent decision to pull from clinical trial a heart drug goes a long way to addressing many of your claims about drug companies which are quite incorrect.

By the way HIV drugs were not produced in US Govt. laboratories and then handed over to drug companies to produce and produce, or are you talking about the same US Govt. lab's that supposedly created the HIV virus back in the 80's in the first place? That was a popular conspiracy theory of the time too.
End of Drug Trial Is a Big Loss for Pfizer and Heart Patients

By Alex Berenson | December 4, 2006
The news came to Pfizer’s chief scientist, Dr. John L. LaMattina, as he was showering at 7 a.m. Saturday: the company’s most promising experimental drug, intended to treat heart disease, actually caused an increase in deaths and heart problems. Eighty-two people had died so far in a clinical trial, versus 51 people in the same trial who had not taken it.

Within hours, Pfizer, the world’s largest drug maker, told more than 100 trial investigators to stop giving patients the drug, called torcetrapib. Shortly after 9 p.m. Saturday, Pfizer announced that it had pulled the plug on the medicine entirely, turning the company’s nearly $1 billion investment in it into a total loss.
The abrupt decision to discontinue torcetrapib was a shocking disappointment for Pfizer and for people who suffer from heart disease. The drug, which has been in development since the early 1990s, raises so-called good cholesterol, and cardiologists had hoped it would reduce the buildup of plaques in blood vessels that can cause heart attacks. Just last Thursday, Pfizer’s chief executive, Jeffrey B. Kindler, said publicly that the drug could be among the most important new developments for heart disease in decades and that the company hoped to get Food and Drug Administration approval for it in 2007.
“I’m terribly disappointed,” said Dr. Steven E. Nissen, chairman of cardiovascular medicine at the Cleveland Clinic and lead investigator of an earlier torcetrapib clinical trial. “This drug, if it worked, would probably have been the largest-selling pharmaceutical in history.”
For people with heart disease, torcetrapib’s failure means that progress may be slowing after two decades of substantial advances against the disease. Medicines to lower blood pressure and bad cholesterol are already effective and widely used, yet heart disease remains the biggest cause of death in the United States, killing 911,000 people in 2003, according to the American Heart Association.
Because the torcetrapib-related deaths occurred during a clinical trial, before the drug reached the market, Pfizer will not face the product liability lawsuits that have dogged Merck over its painkiller, Vioxx. Merck withdrew Vioxx, a best-selling arthritis drug, after evidence emerged that it could cause heart strokes and heart attacks. Patients in clinical trials must sign waivers confirming that they understand the risks they face when they take unapproved medicines in clinical trials.
Scientists had seen torcetrapib as the vanguard of a new wave of medicines that would give physicians new ways to reduce heart disease by raising good cholesterol, following the success of medicines called statins, drugs like Lipitor that work by inhibiting the production of so-called bad cholesterol. These drugs, which include Pfizer’s Lipitor, are among the best-selling drugs in the world with tens of billions of dollars in annual sales.

Continued...

That's a billion dollars Pfizer's lost without having sold even one pill to one patient! Where's that money from??

Moreover if that drug had made it to market, all that outlay will need to be recovered in the list price of the drug, and all that preclinical and clinical development costs have nothing to do with advertising. It's hugely expensive and risky to make drugs! As far as advertising goes though how else is a doctor in the middle of Montana or Western Australia, or a busy clinician in a downtown hospital or city practice supposed to find out about a new drug if the drug companies don’t tell her/him about it? (Advertise) And shouldn't consumers also have the right to be informed about the medicines available to them so they can therefore have a more informed discussion with their doctor about what’s the best medicine for them to take for their condition? (There are only two countries in the world with direct to patient advertising of pharmaceuticals by the way, New Zealand and the USA).

If you wish to read the rest of the article, and I recommend you do, here's the link. If you also do a bit of extra reading about this drug failure you will see that it will cause layoffs at Pfizer and that its share price has already taken a hammering. Some people will have lost money, and they won't all be multimillionaires!
http://www.boston.co...heart_patients/



#9 colinr

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Posted 06 December 2006 - 10:54 PM

1. People who have studied pharmaceutical company accounts have found that advertising is a major cost - sometimes more than research. This costs has to be recovered from sales.

2. You may be right about the HIV drugs - but it is still the case that the world does not have to depend on these companies for research.

3. I don't dispute that companies do research, that it is expensive, and that there are losses when they find they've been barking up the wrong tree. But companies want to make money and their research is aimed at producing medicines for richer people. Heart disease is perhaps case in point.

4. Production of cheap generics does not disadvantage the companies unless you suppose that the poor patients would have paid Western prices had the cheaper versions not been available. They couldn't; they would just die. The companies would lose only if there were widespread smuggling of generics back to the West. That risk can be mitigated and surely should be taken when lives are at stake.




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