[Ip-health] News: PharmaTimes 14 Dec 2010 EU pledge to India over generics seizures

Terri Beswick Terri at haieurope.org
Thu Dec 16 05:27:18 PST 2010

EU pledge to India over generics seizures 

World News | December 14, 2010 

Lynne Taylor <http://www.pharmatimes.com/authors.aspx#Lynne%20Taylor>  

The European Commission has agreed to amend its customs regulations so
that Indian-made generic drugs bound for Third World countries will no
longer be seized while they are in transit through European countries.

The agreement was reached during the India/European Union (EU) Free
Trade Agreement (FTA) summit in Brussels last Friday (December 10).
According to an official statement, EU Trade Commissioner Karel De Gucht
said "categorically" that the EU customs rules, set out in EC Regulation
1383, will be amended "to take care of India's concerns related to
seizures," and that no further confiscations will take place while the
regulation is being amended.

Generic transports in transit "will no longer be checked, except for
counterfeiting," said Commissioner de Gucht.

As a result, India has suspended - but not withdrawn - the complaint
against the EU which it lodged, together with Brazil, at the World Trade
Organisation (WTO) over the seizures in 2009. Brazil has neither
suspended nor withdrawn its complaint.

However, critics claim that this undertaking is of minor relevance, as
measures which represent the real threat to the Indian drug industry's
competitiveness, including data exclusivity, are still being discussed
by trade negotiators.

"We know that behind the scenes, Germany, the UK and France are the ones
doing the bidding for their pharmaceutical industries to try to stamp
out the competition from India," said Michelle Childs, policy director
at international aid agency Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF)'s Campaign
for Access to Essential Medicines, speaking as the trade talks began.  

"The EU is trying to give their pharmaceutical companies a backdoor
route to monopoly status, when they can't get a patent through the front
door," said Ms Childs. "Vague reassurances that the EC is not seeking to
harm the production of affordable medicines are not enough, as the devil
is very much in the details.  At this point, we want a clear statement
from the EC that data exclusivity and other damaging provisions are out
of the free trade agreement text," she added.

However, in a joint statement issued after the summit, India's Commerce
Minister Anand Sharma and Commissioner De Gucht dismissed claims that
the FTA would endanger India's role as "pharmacy to the world."

"Nothing could be further from the truth," they said.

"We agree that nothing should prevent the poorest people from accessing
life-saving medicines. This remains a core principle and will be
reflected explicitly in the trade agreement. The agreement will in no
way limit India's scope for developing and exporting life-saving
medicines. Specifically, it will not stop India from using its
flexibilities under the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of
Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPs), in particular the possibility of
manufacturing generic medicines under compulsory licence for export to
other developing countries facing public health problems," said the

The FTA, which is now expected to be finalized next spring, will be the
largest and most significant deal ever concluded by either the EU or
India, they added. 



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