E-DRUG: Bhatia: Why EU seizes Indian drugs (Former India WTO Amb) (2)
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
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,
Tel: +260 211 25 41 83
Fax: +260 211 25 33 44
Mobile: + 260 979 25 29 00