[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  
forthcoming today.

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  
?higher gear.?

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