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[e-drug] Bhatia: Why EU seizes Indian drugs (Former India WTO Amb) (2)

E-DRUG: Bhatia: Why EU seizes Indian drugs (Former India WTO Amb) (2)

Dear colleagues,
If I may speak on behalf of the many governments that are faced with the 
challenges of counterfeit medicines (be they patents or generics), and 
specifically those countries that are investing time, effort and funds into 
ensuring that public health is safeguarded, I find it astonishing that this 
fight cannot be recognized for what it is. To suggest that governments (LDCs, 
etc) are confusing 'counterfeit' with 'generics' is too simplistic a position 
to take. It is also, in my view, a misrepresentation of those governments, 
NGOs, international organisations (yes, and this includes WTO, WIPO, WHO and 
its IMPACT programme, etc) and indeed the generic pharmaceutical industry 
itself that are involved in supporting governments to protect the public from 
the scourge of counterfeit drugs. Seriously, one needs to be on the ground (and 
you are welcome to Zambia to do this), to witness what damage counterfeits have 
done to patient health, and what cost this trade is imposing on a landlocked 
country such as Zambia. Recently, Interpol- Zambia, working with our drug 
regulatory authority (PRA), set up an operation to try and tackle the 
cross-border trade in imitation drugs (counterfeits).
>From where I sit, we have developed positions through MeTA, and have supported 
>the Ministry of Health in educating Parliament in Zambia on this very matter. 
>In all these documents, we have strictly separated counterfeits from generics, 
>as much as we have made a strong link between patents and generics.
It is such efforts that we must support to preserve the legitimate 
pharmaceutical industry.
The fact that the world seems to chose to confuse counterfeit with generic does 
not and should not weaken government position to prevent the trade in 
counterfeit (be they of patents or generics), through the use of specific 
national/international laws and agreements.
One would have to be blind to the realities around public health if one where 
not to recognize the value and contribution that the global pharmaceutical 
generic industry (India, China, etc) has made to public health, particularly on 
the African continent. Certainly many developing countries recognise that 
service, and value the role played by those credible generic companies. Indeed, 
this makes it imperative that international laws affecting generic drugs must 
be applied efficiently so as not to undermine what is a recognised business. 
However, we need to focus on targeting those that are taking advantage of the 
generic drug industry and indeed public safety and welfare, through the 
deliberate manufacture and trade in counterfeit products.


Bonface Fundafunda PhD., MBA., B.Pharm
Manager, Drug Supply Budget Line
Ministry of Health,
P.O. Box 30205,
Ndeke House,
Tel: +260 211 25 41 83
Fax: +260 211 25 33 44
Mobile: + 260 979 25 29 00
Email: bcfunda@hotmail.com


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