Thai ministry OKs AIDS drug patent license

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thailandBEIJING, Dec. 6 (Xinhuanet) -- Thailand's public health ministry announced Wednesday it will issue a compulsory license for a patent held by the Merck pharmaceutical company for the AIDS treatment drug efavirenz.

Thailand is developing its own generic version of the drug using the country's public drug manufacturer, the Government Pharmaceutical Organization. Production is expected to begin next year, and the compulsory license will allow the importation of generic efavirenz from India in the meantime.

International organization Médecins Sans Frontières (Medicine Without Frontiers) welcomed the decision and urged the government to issue similar licenses for other essential medicines.

According to MSF's figures, Merck charges almost double what Indian generic companies demand to make the same drug. It also claims that supply has been inadequate.

However, Merck reduced the price of the drug in developing countries earlier this year.

Merck declined to comment on the government announcement.

Efavirenz is marketed by Bristol-Myers Squibb in the U.S. and some European countries under the brand name Sustiva and in other countries by Merck under the name Stocrin.

source - Xinhua