Thursday, March 1, 2007

Thai Health Ministry: General Monkol Fired for not Stealing Foreign Intellectual Property Rapidly Enough

GPO chief claims unfair dismissal

Sacked by cabinet for failing to follow policy


The managing director of the Government Pharmaceutical Organisation has been sacked by the cabinet following a personal row with the board chairman and what he said yesterday was unfair pressure to speed up the upgrading of a pharmaceutical manufacturing plant and the breaking of international drug patents. Mongkol Jivasantikarn said Public Health Minister Mongkol na Songkhla's comments on his failure to implement government policy on developing vaccines and drugs ''necessary for the country'' were baseless.

Lt-Gen Mongkol said the budget preparation for constructing vaccine development plants had already been drafted and the Government Pharmaceutical Organisation (GPO) would be ready to produce oseltamivir for bird flu within a month.

The sacking of Lt-Gen Mongkol was approved by the cabinet on Tuesday on the grounds that he had failed to turn health policy into action. He will work in the position until a successor is selected.

Lt-Gen Mongkol also claimed it was unreasonable to blame the substandard drug manufacturing plant on him, saying examination of the facilities by the World Health Organisation was carried out before he was appointed in Oct 2005.

He said that he and other GPO executives had been put under pressure by the issue of compulsory licensing.

He said it was difficult to speed up the government's policy to break the patents on Aids drugs and heart disease therapy as long as there was no guarantee from policymakers that they would be protected from any possible lawsuits by patent holders of the drugs if they signed contracts to approve the import or manufacture of generic versions.


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