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HIV-Drug Patent Wars in Thailand


This blog covers the role that patents play in access to pharmaceuticals -HIV/AIDS in Thailand along with steps taken by the government to overcome the current status of HIV/AIDS drugs. These measures may help to improve access to HIV/AIDS drugs in the country through the patent system.

HIV/AIDS Epidemic in Thailand

AIDS epidemic in Thailand is because of its tarnished sex industry. There are approximately 500,000 HIV-positive people in Thailand out of a total population of 64.6 million. Thailand enjoys a “mid-tier” drug pricing status, which means the Thai government pays less for HIV drugs in comparison to European or U.S. consumers.

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Thailand has patent law since 1979, however, for pharmaceuticals, this law provided for process patents only. Huge backlogs of pharmaceutical patent applications are pending in Thailand due to a variety of reasons. The delays are creating pressure on countries to expand their patent protection terms in order to access affordable medicines. In Thailand, it takes five to eight years for a patent to be examined. After submitting the patent application the agency makes formal notification to the public. Patent protection begins from the filing date and extends for up to 20 years. Many multinational drug companies often send legal notices to generic companies and hospitals which are producing/buying a similar drug and warn them of the consequences they have to bear if the patent is granted.

Currently, it takes 5 to 15 years post introduction of the original product for a generic version to come into the market which results in higher prices of patented drugs; which deprives access to the general public

Measures were taken by the Government

Governments, NGO’s & activists have been fighting hard with the issues which affect access to life-saving medicines, and are trying to find solutions to these problems. The government is trying to create a balance between encouraging innovation in the pharmaceutical sector through intellectual property protection and making life-saving drugs more widely available. They realize encouraging innovation in the pharmaceutical sector through the patent system must be balanced with the urgent need to make life-saving medicines more widely available. Thailand hopes to be one of the first countries to end AIDS by 2030.

The government is constantly undertaking programs for public awareness regarding HIV-AIDS.

  • HIV testing and counseling (HTC) and prevention programs are organized in Thailand
  • HIV education and approach to safe sex education
  • Preventing mother-to-child transmission

Author: Ms. Deepika Sharma, Sr. Patent Associate at Khurana & Khurana, Advocates and IP Attorneys. In case of any queries please contact/write back to us at [email protected].

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