Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Indonesia on breaking the Tamiflu patent: deja vu?

Maya Lestari urges the Indonesian government to break the Roche [sic: Gilead] patent on Tamiflu.

-->Lestari notes that Indonesia previously broke patents on HIV drugs-->

In her last days in office, then president Megawati Soekarnoputri signed a presidential decree on compulsory licensing. The decree basically dictated that, in the event of a public health emergency, the government reserved the right to disregard patent protection and produce (or have someone produce on its behalf) the drug.

Interestingly, within a month of the decree's issuance, the then-minister of health Sujudi applied the ruling to the production of two anti-HIV drugs. With the approval of the ministers of finance and health, the patent rights to the antiretroviral drugs were legally infringed, the first time ever in Indonesia for anti-HIV drugs. The government asked a state-owned pharmaceutical firm (Kimia Farma) to manufacture the drugs on its behalf and marketed the drugs at a much reduced price.

The pharma companies whose patent rights had been infringed were, of course, not happy.

--> Lestari concludes:

In anticipation of a possible global pandemic, the Ministry of Health should capitalize on Presidential Decree 2004 on Government Licensing to mass produce oseltamivir locally. One of the state-owned pharmaceutical companies would be able to import bulk raw materials, manufacture and market oseltamivir for the government without fear of patent infringement and legal prosecution.


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