Aids activists bring patent-drug fight to US

The Nation | Bangkok | 7 October 2006

Aids activists bring patent-drug fight to US

The Thai Network of People Living with HIV/Aids will launch the country’s first campaign abroad against the Thai-US free-trade agreement (FTA) from tomorrow to October 29 in US cities, including San Francisco, New York, Washington and Chicago.

Nimit Tienudom, head of the Aids Access Foundation, said yesterday that the campaign would inform Americans about the impact the FTA would have on Thai patients’ access to medicines, especially chronically ill cancer patients who must use patented medicines. He said foundation official Saengsiri Trimakkha, Chulalongkorn University Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences lecturer Jiraporn Limpananont and HIV-positive Boritpat Donmon would meet US activists, students and local politicians, to discuss the profit-driven FTA’s impact on patients with no access to expensive patent medicines.

Saengsiri said the campaign was supported by USA Engage, which was interested in the controversial dispute over the jasmine-rice patent and the Thai-US FTA’s drug-patent-law aspect. Jiraporn said, "We cannot let this matter reach only ministerial levels for negotiation. We must let the US public know about it, too. If they know, they won’t let the US government take advantage of other countries, especially regarding medicines. Americans have to pay for expensive medicines due to the drug-patent law that prevents domestic companies from producing compatible drugs or those with generic names."

source: The Nation