As we reported in May, the U.S. Trade Representative issued a report on the state of intellectual property rights worldwide, identifying Thailand as one of twelve countries on a "priority watch list." Thailand had been placed on the list as a result of its aggressive moves with respect to anti-AIDS drugs (and non-AIDS-related drugs such as Plavix®), compulsory licensing, and parallel imports.
Now it appears that the European Union has joined the fray. As reported by the Financial Times on Friday, European Union Trade Commissioner Peter Mandelson (at lower left) sent a letter to the Thai government in July, warning that it should refrain from taking further action to force drugmakers to drop drug prices. Mr. Mandelson called Thailand's demand that drug companies offer their drugs at no more than 5% above the generic cost "a matter of concern for the European Union" and labeled this approach "detrimental to the patent system, and so to innovation and the development of new medicines." Mr. Mandelson stated that Thailand's recent moves contravened World Trade Organization regulations, and encouraged the Thai government to negotiate with drug companies, such as sanofi-aventis the maker of Plavix®, rather than issue compulsory licenses or import cheaper generic versions of their drugs.
According to the Financial Times, Thailand has yet to respond to Mr. Mandelson's letter.