December 08, 2006

It was recently announced that a patent held by Merck in Thailand will be the subject of a compulsory license for governmental development. Merck holds a number of patents around the world for its AIDS treatment drug efavirenz, and so that Thailand may further its efforts to develop a generic version of the drug, the public health ministry in Thailand is issuing a compulsory license to the patent for its own public drug manufacturer, the Government Pharmaceutical Organization. Production is scheduled to begin next year, and during that time, generic efavirenz will be imported from India for use in Thailand. According to the Medical News Today article (link below), Merck was not consulted prior to the issuance of the compulsory license, but will receive a 0.5% royalty on sales of the drug. It is anticipated that the over 500,000 people in Thailand living with HIV/AIDS will benefit from a 50% reduction in the cost of the drug, to approximately $38 per month, contrasted with the current $67 monthly cost. According to the IRIN Plus News article (link below), Merck has been providing efavirenz to the Thai government since 2001 at “no profit.” In the United States, efavirenz is sold by Bristol-Myers Squibb as Sustiva®

Medical News Today Article: LINK
IRIN Plus News Article: LINK
Sustiva® Product Website: LINK

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Mark Reichel
Reichel IP LLC

I am a patent attorney with Reichel IP LLC, where I concentrate my practice on patent drafting and prosecution, trademarks, and general intellectual property matters. I currently focus on the preparation and prosecution of medical device and other life sciences patent applications, and being actively involved in a number of local not-for-profit organizations.

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