Friday, January 11, 2008

Ministry faces action over Abbott

Ministry faces action over Abbott

The Commerce Ministry might be taken to the Administrative Court for failing to rule that US-based drug company Abbott Laboratories had violated the Competition Act, a consumer activist said yesterday.

Published on January 6, 2008

"We want the court to make a judgement on Abbott's withdrawals of live-saving drugs from the Thai market," Saree Aongsomwang, manager

of the Consumers Foundation, said.

Saree said she and her colleagues were studying legal procedures, and if they allowed her to take the case to the Administrative Court without appealing first to the ministry's trade competition committee, she would file a petition very soon.

Last April the foundation and several non-governmental organisations working for patients' right to access patented medicines filed a complaint against Abbott with the trade competition committee. The activists claimed that the pharmaceutical company had violated the Competition Act by restricting access to a medicine readily available internationally.

The law states that a company with any form of business relationship with another entity outside Thailand cannot limit the opportunity to purchase goods or services from outside the Kingdom.

Early last year Abbott abandoned its application to market seven important new drugs in the country in retaliation for the Public Health Ministry's imposition of compulsory licensing on its Aids antiretroviral drug Kaletra.

Late last month, the committee ruled that Abbott's actions did not contravene

the act on grounds that the

new drugs had never been marketed in the country before and that their lack of entry would not restrict trade competition.

Pennapa Hongthong

The Nation

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