[Ip-health] The Hindu Business Line: India has mounted pressure on East African countries against the latter's proposed anti-counterfeiting legislation.

Ann-Marie Sevcsik amelsev at gmail.com
Thu Oct 14 16:52:21 PDT 2010


  

Oct. 14, 2010 (The Hindu Business Line) -- India has mounted pressure on East African countries against the latter's proposed anti-counterfeiting legislation.


Arun S.

Nairobi, Oct. 14

These proposed laws, being brought in allegedly at the behest of the certain multinational drug giants, could affect India's exports of generic (or off-patent) drugs – most of them affordable life-saving medicines – to Africa.

These laws, sources said, seek to equate legitimate generics with counterfeit drugs, a move that could affect the health security of many economically-backward Africans.

Concerns

The Commerce and Industry Minister, Mr Anand Sharma, has written to his counterparts in East African nations such as Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Burundi and Rwanda expressing his concerns regarding these countries bringing out a policy on anti-counterfeiting. A fifth of India's pharma exports worth over Rs 44,000 crore goes to Africa, according to industry estimates. One-fourth of world's generics and a fifth of world's drugs are made in India, Mr Sharma said.

Mr Sharma, who was here to inaugurate FICCI's ‘Namaskar Africa' initiative, also raised the issue when he called on Kenyan Prime Minister, Mr Raila Odinga. He later said, Mr Odinga appreciatively acknowledged the contribution of Indian generics.

Pharma benchmarks

Mr Sharma claimed that Indian pharma companies are the best in terms of global standards and benchmarks, adding that the largest US Food and Drug Administration Approvals for non-US companies are of Indian companies.

According to Indian Commerce and Industry officials, New Delhi will follow up the matter with these countries. The Kenyan anti-counterfeit law was passed in 2008, but in April 2010, the Constitution Court in Kenya has stayed the legislation following a petition by HIV-positive patients, the officials added.

Mr Sharma, in his letter to Kenyan Trade Minister, Mr Amb Chirau Ali Mwakwere, warned that such a policy will have long-term implications not just for the countries of East African community but for the entire developing world.

Later addressing the Namaskar Africa function, Mr Sharma said that life-saving medicines were unaffordable for poor people in Africa, Asia and South America as prices were kept high by MNCs' cartels.

Cost control

The battle against these high-priced drugs were fought by Indian pharma companies by bringing down the cost of drugs in Africa for HIV/AIDS treatment for one patient for one year from $12,000 to currently less than $400.

Similarly, in tuberculosis and malaria, Indian companies and the Government are trying to bring down cost of vaccines.

“Therefore we have to guard against the moves, voices and initiatives which are outside the purview of WTO or WIPO. They try to confuse the generics in the name of counterfeits drugs, but Indian generics are respected across the world,” Mr Sharma said.

Besides, India's domestic legislation is fully aligned with the international best practices, WTO's TRIPs, and other GATT agreements, he said, adding that India's generics and its pharma industry are fully compliant with TRIPs norms.
He also raised concerns regarding the Anti-Counterfeiting Agreement being discussed by some developed countries and is considered WTO non-compliant.

Mr Sharma said his EU counterpart recognized that EU's seizure of Indian generics shipments in transit towards third countries was incorrect.

The EU Trade Commissioner assured that the EU will plug all loopholes in its Customs norms.

Meanwhile, India and Kenya have agreed to increase cooperation in IT, agriculture including agro-processing, infrastructure, oil and gas, manufacturing and healthcare during the bilateral Joint Trade Committee Meeting on Thursday.

India and Kenya have set a bilateral trade target of $2.5 billion by 2012-13, from the current level of $1.5 billion in 2009-10.

Decision was also taken to fast-track the finalisation of a Bilateral Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement (BIPPA) and a revised Double Taxation Avoidance Agreement (DTAA) between India and Kenya.


arun.s at thehindu.co.in
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