November 13, 2007 by Yu-Sung Soh
Thailand is at war, with battles taking place on several fronts. Over
600,000 people in Thailand are infected with HIV and the government is
fighting the epidemic by administering HIV treatment and medication
through its universal healthcare system.
But HIV drugs are costly. In order to provide its people with the
necessary medication, Thailand has turned to cheaper, generic versions of
drugs manufactured by large pharmaceutical companies. This has placed them
into a brewing conflict with the pharmaceutical industry.
Last November, Thailand announced that it would be bypassing the patent on
the HIV drug Efavirenz, which is manufactured by pharmaceutical giant
Merck, by issuing a compulsory license which would allow the country to
import or locally produce generic versions at a fraction of the price.
Three months later, Thailand also issued a compulsory license for Kaletra,
an HIV drug manufactured by the US company Abbott.