[Ip-health] Intellectual Property Watch: Minister: India Anticipates European Fix To Law Delaying Generics Shipments
thiru at keionline.org
thiru at keionline.org
Thu Oct 21 01:01:58 PDT 2010
Intellectual Property Watch
20 October 2010
Minister: India Anticipates European Fix To Law Delaying Generics Shipments
By Kaitlin Mara @ 11:16 pm
Europe has promised at the ?highest levels? to fix laws that caused
generic medicine seizures in the Netherlands, the Indian Minister of
Commerce and Industry said today. The minister is in Geneva for
meetings on the ongoing Doha Round trade liberalisation talks at the
World Trade Organization.
?The actions that were taken were not only TRIPS plus but TRIPS
illegal,? Minister Anand Sharma told journalists at the WTO, referring
to the 1994 WTO Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights
agreement, as well as to delays in generic drug shipments in 2008
(IPW, WHO, 5 June 2009)
Indian ?generics have brought about a paradigm shift in changing the
global discourse about access to lifesaving medicines at affordable
prices,? he said. Before Indian-made generics, the price of treatment
for one patient for one year of antiretroviral medicines (used for
HIV/AIDS patients) was US $12,000. In one stroke, this fee was knocked
down to $1100 and now is at $400, he said.
?Generics assured the availability of these medicines? for poor people
in poor countries, Sharma said. And these medicines are ?genuine, not
counterfeit, so any move to confuse between the two is unacceptable
[and] would be deceitful.?
?India is fully TRIPS compliant,? he said, and was provoked to move to
the WTO consultative mechanism along with Brazil in response to the
seizures. India has had meetings with the Directorate-General for
Trade at the European Commission, and EU Trade Commissioner Karel De
Gucht and his predecessor Catherine Ashton, he said.
Some were expecting India to call for formation of a panel in the
dispute case after several months of consultations, but that was not
India has received ?clear assurance, categorical assurance given by
the EU trade commissioner, that the notification under which actions
were taken, a, was misinterpreted and b, will be amended to plug all
?[We] have every reason to believe that assurances given at the
highest level will be implemented and once implemented will be
resolved,? he said.
Regarding ongoing negotiations for an EU-India free trade agreement,
which many public health advocates have said contains provisions
potentially threatening to public health (IPW, Public Health, 27 April
2010), Sharma said, ?what is being discussed in the IPR chapter is
within the ambit of India?s? domestic laws.
?Nothing will ever be discussed in the bilateral agreements or
regional trade and investment agreements which jeopardises? public
health nor which is in conflict with India?s commitments in
multilateral agreements or in domestic legislation, said the trade
minister. It is unclear if India?s health ministry would take the same
India?s trade ministry also recently released a draft discussion paper
on compulsory licensing (available here [doc]). On this paper, Sharma
said in India, the pharmaceutical industry had assured the
availability of medicines at affordable prices, not only domestically
but throughout the developing world. Many countries have invoked
compulsory licences, a provision which is in the TRIPS agreement. If
such licences are required, India will invoke them, but the purpose
with the paper was to stimulate discussion and feedback.
On several TRIPS issues up for discussion under the ongoing Doha Round
of negotiations, India is working with other developing countries in
particular on an issue of linking the UN Convention on Biological
Diversity to TRIPS. The other connected issues involve geographical
indications, or product names associated with a particular place and
characteristics, said D. K. Mittal, the lead WTO negotiator for India.
But he said ultimately it is the WTO Director General Pascal Lamy,
leading the process.
On wider Doha Round issues, Sharma said there is clear interest from
all countries in reaching an early conclusion, in fact that it was
?imperative for the world to do so.?
The Doha Round began in 2001 and has consistently blown through
deadlines for its completion. The closest countries came to reaching
an agreement was in the midst of the 2008 financial and food crises,
when talks eventually broke down at the last minute due to
disagreements between India and the United States about a Special
Safeguard Mechanism for agricultural products, though some
commentators at the time thought this was a red herring and there were
other difficult parts of the disagreement (IPW, WTO, 29 July 2008).
The SSM measures are still considered important, Sharma said, adding
that in ?final round of the closing lap we do expect that there would
be a spirit of accommodation some more adjustments to bring about
ambitious and balanced outcome.?
Lamy yesterday called on WTO members to move Doha negotiations into
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