[Ip-health] News: Economic Times (India)- African nations reworking stringent anti-counterfeit pharma legislation

Terri - Louise Beswick Terri at haiweb.org
Mon Sep 20 08:24:45 PDT 2010

African nations reworking stringent anti-counterfeit pharma legislation





LEADING African nations Uganda, Tanzania and Nigeria are reconsidering
provisions of their proposed stringent anti-counterfeit legislation that
could hamper pharmaceuticals exports to these countries after a
high-pitch awareness campaign by India.


The Centre has asked all its missions in Africa to spread awareness
about Indian drugs to ensure that governments do not pass any law that
could jeopardise the supply of low cost medicines by Indian companies to
these countries and also engage with civil society organisations that
are working against such laws.


We have started providing our missions in Africa all possible data to
support our claim that our generic producers are genuine and instructed
them to pass on the same to the departments concerned, a commerce
department official told ET.


India is battling a sustained campaign by global pharma companies
against Indian generics,or low-cost copies of medicines that may be
under patent protection in some countries but not in India.They have
tried to equate Indian generics with spurious or low quality drugs and
successfully convinced some African countries such as Kenya to pass
anticounterfeit laws banning sale of generic of a drug if it enjoys
patent protection anywhere in the world.


This could really hurt Indias pharma exports as most of the drugs
exported by India would be labelled counterfeit under such legislation
and face ban because they may be off-patent in India but may still have
valid intellectual property rights in other countries.

Such a ban would greatly benefit multinational drug companies,allowing
them to sell high-priced patented medicines in the big African
markets.Indias case has been strengthened by the opposition to these
legislations by the civil rights groups who have raised concern that the
new law would deny cheap medicine to people.


Even Kenya,the only African country to have passed an anti-counterfeit
legislation,had to suspend its application after three HIV positive
patients moved court on the grounds that the law made anti-AIDS
medicines unaffordable.The level of influence that multinational
companies wield in Africa is evident in that a large global
pharmaceutical producer offered assistance to Kenya to implement the
suspended law,reports in the African media said.


Indian missions have now been asked to work with civil society
organisations who are trying to ensure that tight intellectual property

norms do not hinder access to cheap medicines by the poor, the official
said,adding that such organisations are heavily networked and have a
power of mobilising opinion.


A survey by Indias health ministry showed that out of 24,000 samples of
drugs collected from suppliers all over the country,only 11 samples were
found to be sub-standard.



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