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Indonesia joins campaign to produce cheap generics

The Indonesian Government has over-ridden patents on seven Big Pharma-produced medicines to allow local production of cheap generic drugs to treat HIV/AIDS, sparking outrage among major drug manufacturers. In a decree quietly issued earlier this year, Indonesian President Bambang Yudhoyono overrode patents held by companies including Merck & Co, GlaxoSmithKline and Bristol-Myers Squibb, drawing condemnation from the International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers and Associations, which has drawn attention to the move as part of a campaign to protect their access to markets in the developing world.

05 Nov 2012

The Indonesian Government has over-ridden patents on seven Big Pharma-produced medicines to allow local production of cheap generic drugs to treat HIV/AIDS, sparking outrage among major drug manufacturers.

In a decree quietly issued earlier this year, Indonesian President Bambang Yudhoyono overrode patents held by companies including Merck & Co, GlaxoSmithKline and Bristol-Myers Squibb, drawing condemnation from the International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers and Associations, which has drawn attention to the move as part of a campaign to protect their access to markets in the developing world.

The Federaiton’s Director of Innovation, Intellectual Property and Trade, Andrew Jenner, said that although developing countries had the right to take such action - “this should be a last resort”.

“Systematic issuance of compulsory licences by Indonesia can reduce the incentive to invest in the research and development of new medicines, including HIV/AIDS and hepatitis therapies,” Mr Jenner said.

“We believe that negotiated approaches, such as tiered pricing or voluntary licensing, are generally more effective and sustainable, both medically and economically.”

Indonesia’s action accords with World Trade Organisation rules, which allow countries to over-ride patents when they deem it necessary to protect public health. The UN estimates that about 310,000 Indonesians are living with HIV.

Indonesia is not the only battlefront in Asia pitting governments against foreign drug manufacturers.

In India, the Government is strenuously defending its position as a leading producer of cheap generic drugs for such conditions as HIV/AIDS and leukaemia in a number of court cases, while China has amended its patent law to allow companies to produce generic versions of patented drugs in state emergencies or in the public interest.

DN


Published: 05 Nov 2012