Wednesday, March 10, 2010


Thailand patents and generics

Thai Pharmaceutical workers pack anti-retroviral drug Lanavir.

In 2006 Thailand suspended patent protections for expensive cutting-edge treatments for AIDS, cancer and heart disease, giving Thais access to cheap copycat versions. Activists against AIDS and poverty hailed Thailand as a global leader, but the kingdom has faced heavy pressure and threats of legal action from Western pharmaceutical firms.

In its last annual report in March 2009, the US Trade Representative's office said Thailand was within its WTO rights to approve generic drugs but called for "transparency and due process." Campaigners voiced outrage last year when they said they obtained a letter showing Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva's government would not license more generic drugs as the issue was holding up free trade talks with the United States.
Thailand seeks WTO solution on generics
Much of the generic drugs for AIDS treatment in Thailand come from India, which had a different patents story. They allowed only process patents in the past, which ensured that domestic pharmaceutical companies acquired the ability to manufacture copy-cat low cost generics. Those companies have now acquired capital, intellectual property, and infrastructure, and the Indian government's recognition of product patents in 2005 has not affected the availability of low-cost medicines in that country.

Saturday, March 06, 2010


Vscan portable pricing

Bangalore-based GE Healthcare last week unveiled the Vscan, a pocket-sized, battery-powered ultrasound machine with the look and feel of a cellphone. Vscan joins other portable ultrasound machines in the Rs 570-crore Indian ultrasound market. The Vscan is priced at Rs 5.5-6 lakh. Besides its competitive pricing, the Vscan is highly portable because of its small size.


GE says it has a commitment for about 50 Vscans from three-four corporate hospitals. But to go massmarket, it will have to target individual doctors and specialist clinics. Point-of-care devices such as the Vscan could potentially eat into the income that doctors are known to unofficially make for referring patients to labs for tests.

Jayant Singh, medical technology practice head at Frost & Sullivan, says Vscan will do “very well” in pockets where patients are willing to pay for the speed and convenience. GE has opened discussions with the government to make the portable Vscan available in primary healthcare centres as well.

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