HIV :: New WHO Chief fails to stand up for people living with AIDS

AIDS Healthcare Foundation says WHO Chief’s lack of support for Thai action on compulsory AIDS drug licensing makes it clear that the health of people living with HIV in Thailand is not among her priorities.

AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF), the US? largest HIV/AIDS healthcare and prevention and education provider, which operates free AIDS treatment clinics in the US, Africa, Latin America/Caribbean and Asia, today blasted the World Health Organization?s (WHO) newly-appointed Director General Margaret Chan for statements she made in response to Thailand?s action on compulsory AIDS drug licensing which appear to favor pharmaceutical companies? interests over people living with HIV/AIDS in the developing world.

The WHO leader?s comments?made during a visit with Thailand?s National Health Security Office (NHSO) on Thursday?comes on the heels of an announcement made by the Government of Thailand regarding its intention to break a patent on Abbott Laboratories? HIV/AIDS drug Kaletra by issuing a compulsory license to produce a lower-cost version of the drug, in order to increase access to the lifesaving medicine for its people. Under the World Trade Organization?s Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) Article 31, the Thai government has the authority to issue a compulsory license in order to protect public health?despite a misconception that a ?national emergency? is required as a pre-condition to taking such action. Approximately 108,000 of 500,000 people living with HIV/AIDS in Thailand depend on GPO-VIR, the generic version of the first-line anti-retroviral therapy produced by the Government Pharmaceutical Organization. According to the Thai government, an estimated 20,000 of these patients have developed resistance to the drug, and are in need of Kaletra.

?AHF is alarmed by Dr. Chan?s comments regarding Thailand?s move to increase access to lifesaving AIDS medications for its citizens in need. It is clear that, despite the WHO?s mission to attain the highest possible level of health for all people, the health of people living with HIV in Thailand is not among Dr. Chan?s priorities,? said Michael Weinstein, AIDS Healthcare Foundation?s President. ?Thailand?s move to issue a compulsory license for Kaletra will likely lower the price of this lifesaving drug to nearly half of its current cost and will mean the difference between life and death for thousands of Thai citizens in need. The comments made by Dr. Chan serve only to undermine Thailand?s efforts to protect the health of its people and it is appalling that in her position she would choose to advocate for multinational corporate interests over the interests of people living with HIV/AIDS in the developing world. AHF seeks immediate clarification from the Director General on her position regarding Thailand?s efforts to protect the health of its citizens.?

According to Thursday?s Bangkok Post article, ?WHO Raps Compulsory Licensing Plan? by Apiradee Treerutkuarkul (February 2, 2007): ?The World Health Organization yesterday cautioned Thailand over its move to adopt compulsory licensing for producing generic versions of heart disease and anti-Aids drugs. ‘?I’d like to underline that we have to find a right balance for compulsory licensing. We can’t be naive about this. There is no perfect solution for accessing drugs in both quality and quantity,’? said WHO director-general Margaret Chan. Speaking during a visit to the National Health Security Office, Dr Chan said she truly felt that the pharmaceutical industry was part of the solution to better drug access and that the government should open negotiations with drug firms over the issue.?

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HIV :: New WHO Chief fails to stand up for people living with AIDS
by ( Author at Spirit India )
Posted on at 1:11 pm.
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