by Ed Silverman
Published at pharmalot.com
Now that Thailand’s new government has indicated it will proceed, after all, with plans to issue compulsory licenses for three cancer meds, speculation is growing that the European Commission will pursue litigation under World Trade Organization rules. However, activists who support Thailand’s efforts are circulating a statement from an EU spokesperson that quashes the notion.
According to the message we received, European Union reps say the allegations are untrue. And asked if the EU was considering a WTO challenge, an EU official stated that the EU has made never threatened a challenge, does not plan a challenge, and acknowledges that Thailand’s actions comply with WTO rules. This is the statement…
“The commission has been in constant contact with the Thai authorities and has stressed that compulsory licensing, while allowed by the WTO rules, should be regarded as a last resort option and that negotiations and collaboration with pharmaceutical companies should be sought. The EU is hoping that this will be the line of the new government. However, it is clear that the commission has never threatened WTO litigation on compulsory licensing for medicines.”
We have written the EU to seek further comment. We should note, meanwhile, that similar rumors surfaced last month involving pending sanctions by Washington. However, the US Trade Rep ruled out trade sanctions, but did say Thailand’s status is being examined as part of an annual review. Pharma has lobbied for the US Trade Rep to downgrade Thailand to its lowest echelon. Bangkok is already on the Priority Watch List.