FTA ’to bar cheap Aids drugs’
13 December 2005
Aids patients were unlikely to gain access to cheaper drugs after the free trade agreement between Thailand and the United States is signed, a human rights discussion was told yesterday. Supatra Nakaphew, director of the Aids-related Rights Protection Centre, yesterday told the discussion, which is part of the Dec 9-16 National Human Rights Week, that Aids patients would see their human rights violated as the planned Thai-US free trade agreement was likely to protect only American patented drugs.
If the agreement is in force, Thailand will not be able to freely produce anti-Aids drugs and patients will have to pay more for US-produced medicines. ``In fact, this will apply to all US medicines, be they for Aids or not,’’ she said.
Non-governmental organisations had repeatedly asked the government to exclude drug patent protection from the FTA but had received no response.
Ms Supatra also complained about human rights concerns in connection to the on-going human trials of the anti-Aids drug Tenofovir in Thailand.
She said the manufacturer and the Aids Vaccine Research Centre in Bangkok are testing the drug on 1,600 drug addicts who are under a rehabilitation programme at 17 rehabilitation centres in Bangkok.
She alleged that participants were not receiving clean syringes and there was no campaign to make them aware of the possible danger of HIV infection through used syringes.
Cambodia had opposed the trials not only because prostitutes in the country were being hired for just five dollars a month to test the vaccine, but also because they were being forbidden to use condoms to prove the effect of the tested drug, Ms Supatra said.