As a follow up to my two pieces about the strange attraction between discussion of the Thai government’s origins in a military coup and any mention of that government’s attempts to negotiate prices with large western pharma giants, I would suggest reading this post that dissects some of the dis-information campaign re: the Thai compulsory licensing program over at the blog Pheripheries.
Well it appears that the Financial Times is not alone in mentioning that the Thai government is not a democracy every time they discuss the mandatory licensing issue. It seems as if there might be a co-ordinated talking point memo out there somewhere, no?
The close of the International Aids Society Conference in Sydney ended the publicity train of posturing activists and non-government organisations. In the conference’s wake, it is time to refocus on ensuring access to HIV/AIDS medicines for the world’s poor through real solutions, not political catchphrases.
Two groups particularly active last week in Sydney have provided poignant examples of how discussion about serious science and public policy can be outshined by ideological PR campaigns.
The executive director, Andrew Hewett, argued in ABC News Online that Thailand provides a “model” for dealing with treatment of HIV/AIDS.
What exactly is that model? The military junta which seized control of Thailand earlier this year [emphasis added by EF] has nationalised the patents of a series of vital drugs.
Australian Broadcasting Corporation is to be applauded in one respect though: this piece is clearly marked as an opinion piece, whereas in the Financial Times, similar text was run as part of a news story.
Continue reading “Did Tim Wilson get the same memo as Amy Kazmin?”
A modest post, including, as a special bonus, an enlightened understanding of the terms amazingly free and military-installed…
Here we have a story about a developing country, realizing that it can’t afford some of the most expensive medicines necessary for treating AIDS, announcing that it will therefore begin producing generic versions of these very few (just 2 actually) very expensive medications. This is specifically allowed, under the declaration of a health emergency, by WIPO rules. But if Thailand does declare such an emergency, it is almost certain that the pharmaceutical companies or their trade group would appeal this. It may just be posturing by the Thai government to get the best possible bargaining position, when they buy some pharmaceuticals, but this somehow seems a little more premeditated. The Financial Times covers the story:
By Amy Kazmin in Bangkok
Published: February 18 2007 22:12 | Last updated: February 18 2007 22:12
Thailand is likely to widen its use of cheaper, generic versions of patented drugs, unless western drug companies cut the prices of their original medications, the country’s health minister has said.
Dr Mongkol Na Songkhla, health minister, told the Financial Times that the military-installed government was considering whether to ignore the patents for drugs used to treat leading causes of death – such as cancer and heart disease – as it escalates its confrontation with big pharmaceuticals groups.[n.b.:emphasis added by e_f]
Hmmm…So did Dr. Mongkol Na Songkhla really say something like “Today, our military-installed government has decided that it will begin producing generic pharmaceuticals?” Now, I have never worked for a “military-installed ” government, but it seems fairly obvious that reminding one’s superiors that they came into power undemocratically is not a career-enhancing move. So, perhaps, Dr. Mongkol Na Songkhla is really, really dense. Or did the Financial Times insert that adjective sideways, to indicate disapproval of that action. If so, isn’t this news piece really an editorial? And if it is an editorial, whose interests are being represented here?