Angered U.S. firm excludes Thailand from new drugs

BANGKOK (Reuters) – U.S. drugs giant Abbott Laboratories said it would stop launching new medicines in Thailand in protest at the army-backed government’s move to override international drug patents.

The decision will not affect Abbott drugs already on sale in Thailand, which declared a “compulsory license” in January allowing it to make or buy generic versions of Abbott’s Kaletra to treat HIV/AIDS.

“Thailand has chosen to break patents on numerous medicines, ignoring the patent system. As such, we’ve elected not to introduce new medicines there,” Abbott spokeswoman Jennifer Smoter told Reuters.

There was no immediate reaction from the Health Ministry, which argues it needs cheaper, copycat drugs to ensure wider access for Thailand’s 63 million people, including 580,000 living with HIV/AIDS.

About 30 AIDS activists and patients protested outside Abbott’s office in Bangkok, calling for a boycott of the company’s products. Read More….

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