IP shield for medicines in the works
The Intellectual Property Department has teamed up with the Thai Traditional and Alternative Medicine Department under the Public Health Ministry to develop a central database for Thai traditional medicine recipes and Thai traditional wisdom to prevent profiteering and patent or trademark registrations by foreigners.
Thosapone Dansuputra, director-general of the Intellectual Property Department, said that under the partnership, an intellectual property data warehouse on genetic resources, traditional knowledge (TK) and cultural expressions will be set up to protect national resources and local knowledge.
"Thailand is rich in biodiversity and ancient heritage, and a central database will provide reference about the ownership of Thai traditional medicine and Thai wisdom," Mr Thosapone said. "This is the first database development to protect Thailand and Thai people's intellectual property rights. This will allow the department to examine when foreigners apply to register a patent for medicine and curb the biopiracy by which foreigners have illegally made use of Thailand's genetic resources and local wisdom."
The database is scheduled to have a test run by July or August and is expected to be completed later this year.
Traditional Thai herbal treatment is one of the most valuable heritages from Thai ancestors.
Traditionally, herbal products are the output of herbal ingredients through processes that combine beliefs, theories and cultural know-how.
Nowadays, the popularity of herbal product leads to more scientific research and development and the implementation of advanced technology in production processes. As a result, the herbal market has grown significantly and becomes a strong industry in Thailand.
Marut Jirasrattasiri, director-general of the Thai Traditional and Alternative Medicine Department, said his department has already registered 36,293 formulas of Thai traditional medicines made from Thai herbs and 20 recipes such as for herbal aromatic powder and appetite stimulant.
According to Mr Marut, the global market value for herbal products is estimated at more than 150 billion baht a year, of which herbal medicine is estimated at 10 billion baht, herb-based supplementary food at 40-50 billion baht and cosmeceuticals such as soap and toothpaste at 100 billion baht.