Thursday, 13 March 2008

Thailand to import generic drug from India

BANGKOK, March 11 (TNA) - Thailand's Government Pharmaceutical Organisation (GPO) will import the generic version of breast cancer drug Docetaxel from India under Thailand's compulsory licensing (CL) as it was 100-times cheaper than the original version, a senior GPO official said on Tuesday.

In response to the Public Health Minister Chaiya Sasomsap's Monday announcement of a go ahead with the CL policy on four cancer drugs, Wanchai Supachaturas, the GPO deputy director, said the Indian-based company Dabur Pharma would soon be able to deliver the first batch of the drug to treat some 1,000 lung and breast cancer patients.

The Indian-based company, which recently won the GPO-sponsored bidding to distribute the drug under the CL policy, has offered to sell the drug for Bt15,000 (US$468) per dose, or 100 times cheaper than the patented version, said the GPO deputy director.

Mr. Wanchai stressed the GPO drug procurement process was carried out on a non-profit basis only for the benefits of poor patients.

The agency, he said, would also go ahead with a plan to import the generic versions of the other two cancer drugs--Erlotinib and Letrozole.

Former public health minister Dr. Mongkol Na Songkhla on January 4 announced the CL policy to override the patents on the four cancer drugs because the patent owners refused to lower prices after many rounds of negotiations with the price-negotiation panel led by former Food and Drug Administration secretary-general Siriwat Thiptaradol.

Earlier, Novartis (Thailand), patent owner of the life-saving drug Imatinib agreed to provide the medicine free to some patients under the universal healthcare scheme in exchange for Thailand opting to not issue compulsory licences on the drug.

The company would provide Imatinib for patients suffering from leukaemia and gastrointestinal cancer without charge under the Glivec International Patient Assistance Programme (GIPAP).

The free access to the life-saving drugs will be given to those patients who have household income per year less than Bt 1.7 million (US$51,515). (TNA)-E001