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Thai pharma market to grow 4.8 per cent

The Thai pharmaceutical market will grow at an average rate of 4.8 per cent in the medium term

The Thai pharmaceutical market will grow at an average rate of 4.8 per cent in the medium term, despite the Thai government's poor relationship with the international pharmaceutical industry.

Lax patent laws and preferential treatment of domestic producers do not protect foreign, branded drugs in the region, and a number of pharmaceutical companies are no longer distributing new drugs there.

The compulsory licensing of patented drugs by the military government in 2006 and 2007 has further compounded this problem, says the report, which adds that the government is acting within its rights and has not violated international law, as stipulated in the Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property (TRIPS) agreement.

The government has offered to pay patented drug manufacturers a royalty of five per cent above the price of generics, but no compromise has been reached with the companies involved. The government has offered to pay patented drug manufacturers a royalty of five per cent above the price of generics, but no compromise has been reached with the companies involved.

Ministers have said that the compulsory licences will only apply to drugs under all public insurance schemes. Drugs bought on the open market, will not be affected by compulsory licensing. As of 2007, the Universal Healthcare Scheme covers around 48 million people, or over 70 per cent of the population.

Healthcare sector development has begun to accelerate again regarding spending and revived policies. For example, the introduction of the THB 30 universal healthcare scheme in 2001 and the new free universal healthcare scheme that started in November 2006.

The compulsory licensing of patented drugs by the military government has angered the global pharma industry, while some international charity groups have applauded the actions. The compulsory licensing affects drugs sold and distributed under all government schemes.

In 2007 alone, over 70 per cent of Thais were under the Universal Healthcare scheme. Import levels for modern drugs surpassed pre-crisis levels for the first time in 2003 and the market is still dominated by generics and OTC products.

30th September 2008

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