Thailand offers low-cost transfer to African countries of technology for the local production of generic antiretrovirals

Graham McKerrow, HIV i-Base

The Thai Government Pharmaceutical Organisation (GPO), which manufactures more than 300 types of pharmaceuticals including antiretroviral drugs, announced in Barcelona that it wishes to cooperate with poor countries to facilitate the transfer of the technology necessary for the local production of drugs.

Dr Krisana Kraisintu of the GPO told delegates that his organisation wanted to see a collaboration between Thailand and Africa. He said: “The technology transfer is from government to government, from one developing country to others. The price should be as low as possible so that governments can provide free treatment, or at the lowest possible price.”

Kraisintu said there were three keys to a successful and low cost provision of generic drugs around the world. They were to use generic drugs, to negotiate at the national or regional level, and to produce at the national or regional level.

He emphasised that any technology transfer would have to include advice on quality, quantity and the continuity of supply, as well as TRIPS trade regulations and local drugs licences.

Kraisintu ended his presentation by saying that their goal was to treat three million people within two years.

Generic antiretrovirals are currently produced in Thailand and Brazil under the auspices of the government and in India by the private sector. The World Health Organisation Regional Office for Africa (WHO/AFRO) and Thailand are in dialogue to explore the possibilities for technology transfer.

The paper presented by Kraisintu at a session entitled Towards a Political Economy of Access, recommended: “WHO/AFRO should provide support to countries of interest for the implementation of technology transfer with special emphasis on institutional capacity building and technical assistance at country level.”[1]

A separate presentation by the Thai GPO earlier in the conference said it currently produces zidovudine syrup and capsules, Didanosine powder forms, stavudine syrup and capsules, Lamivudine syrup and tablets, zidovudine and Lamivudine tablets, nevirapine tablets, saquinavir capsules and nelfinavir tablets. A combination of stavudine, Lamivudine and nevirapine is also produced. Drugs for opportunistic infections made by the GPO include clarythromycin tablets, fluconazole capsules, itraconazole capsules, amphotericin B injection, lipid emulsion and liposomes.[2]

The abstract for that presentation concluded: “We can now ensure that in Thailand the access to antiretroviral drugs is feasible, affordable and cost effective.”

Brazilian researchers reported that they had developed a mathematical model whereby different income-level countries paid different prices for drugs in a way that provided treatment for those who needed it and protected drug company profits.[3]

Researchers at the Fundação Oswaldo Cruz in Rio de Janeiro reported: “If the high-income countries acquire the medicine at the price originally stipulated by the drug company and all other countries acquire the medicine at the price of the generic, approximately 70% of the profit of the drug company is maintained.

“Additionally, if the high-income countries pay the original price, the medium and low-income countries pay 25% more than the cost price, and the very poor countries acquire the medicine at the cost price, the profit of the drug company is totally preserved.”

They conclude that ARV medicines could be made available to developing countries at viable commercial prices without substantially undermining the drugs company profit. However, acquisition of ARV medicines in the very poor countries will require the assistance of the Global Fund.


  1. K Kraisintu. Technology transfer for local production of HIV/AIDS-related drugs in African countries : collaboration between Thailand and Africa. XIV International AIDS Conference, Barcelona, 7-12 July. Abstract ThOrE1422
  2. K Kraisintu, A Eksaengsri. Generic production of HIV/AIDS-related drugs in Thailand. XIV International AIDS Conference, Barcelona, 7-12 July. Abstract MoOrG1038
  3. CL Szwarcwald, A Grangeiro. Can the rich countries help the poor countries in fighting the AIDS epidemic? A mathematical proposal based on the principle of differential prices for ARV medicines. XIV International AIDS Conference, Barcelona, 7-12 July. Abstract ThPeE7926

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