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
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
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.