WHO Says Whoa to Thailand and Patent Robbers

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  • 02/03/2007
Here's why...

1.Treaties are based on trust. Thailand has violated the principle of the Doha agreement with this patent grab and in light of previous good faith efforts to negotiate partnerships with companies to promote comprehensive programs to speed access to medicines in the past, the outright seizure is akin to kicking private firms right in the ....intellectual property.

2. The patent seizure is based on a novel economic theory pursued by the not so smart Nobel Prize winner Joe Stieglitz, namely that generic companies that make drugs for profit are okay but innovator companies that do so are like Ebenezer Scrooge. That is generic companies are entitled to make a profit on drugs because they charge a "just price" for drugs but not innovator companies. Indeed, Jamie Love and others have argued that compulsory licensing should be invoked by any country, for any product, for any public use as long as a royalty is paid (just compensation).

WHO's president knows -- as does the Gates Foundation -- that the spread of this approach would leave only Jamie Love, Doctors Without Brains and a handful of generic companies in India in the business of developing new drugs for the developing world. Which means no new drugs at all.

3. The screw the drug company approach ignores the fact that most of these countries still underinvest in their public health systems and require NGO involvement above and beyond the rhetorical contributions of leftist and anti-globalist groups that have the ear of reporters at Le Figaro and The Guardian. The WHO President's rebuke of Thailand's health ministry reflects an effort the need for greater international and corporate investment and incentives to support such investment. Outright patent seizures are not an incentive the last time I checked.

Center for Medicine in the Public Interest is a nonprofit, non-partisan organization promoting innovative solutions that advance medical progress, reduce health disparities, extend life and make health care more affordable, preventive and patient-centered. CMPI also provides the public, policymakers and the media a reliable source of independent scientific analysis on issues ranging from personalized medicine, food and drug safety, health care reform and comparative effectiveness.

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