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[e-drug] Indian generics safe from seizure while passing through EU

E-DRUG: Indian generics safe from seizure while passing through EU
[Finally, there seems to be a solution in sight for the transfer of affordable 
generic medicines from Asia to Africa through European (air)ports. Has anyone 
seen a confirmation by EU? Thanks to Bo for spotting. Copied as fair use. WB]

The Economic Times, Sunday 12 Dec, 2010


Indian generics to be safe from seizure while passing through EU

NEW DELHI: Pharmaceutical exporters can breathe easy as the European Union has 
finally agreed to India's demand to amend its Customs regulations to stop 
confiscation of drugs en route to African and Latin American countries. Till 
the amendment is brought about, the European Commission has promised that no 
further seizures would take place at any European port, a government official 
has said.

European Union Trade Commissioner Karel de Gucht assured India of these 
measures during his recent bilateral meeting with Commerce and Industry 
Minister Anand Sharma in Brussels.

"The EU trade commissioner categorically stated that EC (European Commission) 
regulation 1383 will be amended to take care of India's concerns related to 
seizures," the official said. EC regulation 1383 lays down Customs action 
against goods suspected of infringing certain intellectual property rights.

India's pharmaceutical industry exports cheap generics to many countries in 
Africa and Latin America. Generics are copies of drugs that no longer enjoy 
patent protection.

Some of the generics exported by India continue to enjoy patent protection in 
the European Union. The Customs authorities of some of these countries have 
therefore confiscated the consignment of such drugs on the way to other 
countries through European ports for violating their intellectual property 

The seizures took place following complaints by pharmaceutical giants holding 
patents to the medicines in Europe including Sanofi-Aventis SA , Novartis AG 
and Eli Lilly & Co. This had created uncertainty for India's Rs 40,000 
crore generics export industry following at least 17 cases of seizures of 
consignments in the Netherlands, Germany and France over the last two years.

India protested strongly against the confiscations, which it termed illegal, as 
the generics were off patent in India and were not meant for sale in the EU. It 
also raised humanitarian concerns, arguing that countries in Africa and Latin 
America do not have the capability to manufacture these life-saving medicines 
and cannot afford the patented alternatives.

India even took the issue to the World Trade Organization (WTO), arguing that 
the seizures amounted to violation of the international intellectual property 
agreement, Trips, and asked the EU for consultations.

Most of the seized consignments were produced by reputed Indian companies such 
as Dr Reddy's and Aurobindo Pharma . "The EU had earlier offered to send notes 
to all Customs authorities advising them against seizures but India was 
insistent that it would not settle for anything less than an amendment in 
Customs rules," the official said. Despite the EU's assurance of amending its 
rules, India is not in a hurry to withdraw its complaint and consultation 
request filed with the WTO. "We prefer to wait and watch the EU deliver its 
promise before we withdraw the issue from the WTO," the official said.

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