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PhRMA Meets with Thai Health Minister

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Highlights Consequences of Compulsory Licenses

Washington, DC -- PhRMA President and CEO Billy Tauzin today met with Thailand’s Health Minister Mongkol Na Songkhla and other Thai government officials to discuss the consequences of Thailand’s issuance of compulsory licenses on medicines. A compulsory license, in effect, allows competitors to take and copy freely a patented medicine despite the innovator’s property rights.

"We remain deeply troubled by Thailand’s decision to announce compulsory licenses on life-saving medicines," Tauzin said today. "Pursuing such drastic measures – as the Thai government has done – not only hurts the innovative engine that helps economies around the world prosper, worse, it could also limit access to new breakthrough medicines for patients suffering from life-threatening diseases such as HIV/AIDS and cancer. Clearly, Thai patients deserve better."

Pharmaceutical research companies have partnered with governments around the world to help improve patient access to medicines that help them live longer, healthier lives. Such philanthropic and charitable efforts include setting up free health clinics and providing direct assistance for underdeveloped and developing countries. Worldwide investment by pharmaceutical companies in the research and development of new cures also reached nearly $80 billion last year alone. This research is costly and time consuming, but it is undertaken because of our industry’s continued commitment to improving and saving lives everywhere.

Tauzin continued, "In refusing to support the research and development of new medicines, countries such as Thailand – which is the world’s 21st largest economy out of more than 200 countries worldwide – are shifting the burden of research and development costs onto patients in America, the same patients who already shoulder an unfair burden of R&D costs.

"I strongly urge the Thai government to look at the long-term consequences compulsory licenses can have on their patient population before moving forward with such a misguided approach. It is our hope that we continue this important dialogue with Minister Mongkol so that Thai patients can have effective access to medicines that help them win their battle against disease," Billy Tauzin concluded.

At the end of the meeting, Mr. Tauzin again reiterated to Minister Mongkol that a cooperative relationship between America’s pharmaceutical research companies and the Government of Thailand is the most productive approach to ensuring that Thai patients continue to have access to new cures.

The Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) represents the country’s leading pharmaceutical research and biotechnology companies, which are devoted to inventing medicines that allow patients to live longer, healthier, and more productive lives. PhRMA companies are leading the way in the search for new cures. PhRMA members alone invested an estimated $43 billion in 2006 in discovering and developing new medicines. Industry-wide research and investment reached a record $55.2 billion in 2006.

Today’s Research. Tomorrow’s Cures.

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