[Ip-health] Portuguese navigators, spice routes, and South-South trade routes for medicines Portuguese navigators, spice routes, and South-South trade routes for medicines

Unikey denisbarbosa at unikey.com.br
Fri Feb 17 05:24:46 PST 2012

As an IP lawyer with prior practice in Maritime Law, I could never recognize the po

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On 16/02/2012, at 18:36, Joao Carapinha <joao at carapinha.com> wrote:

> http://www.carapinha.com/733
> *Portuguese navigators, spice routes, and South-South trade routes for
> medicines*
> *
> *
> João L. Carapinha, Brook K. Baker
> The spice trade of antiquity and contemporary medicine trade appear to
> share much in common.
> For centuries, Greeks and Romans traded spice with Asia using trade routes
> over land and sea to India and China. They were the Indian-Roman routes and
> Incense routes with paths crossing the Red Sea and Asia Minor – the same
> routes that Marco Polo used and later detailed in his book *The Travels of
> Marco Polo*. When the Ottomans defeated the Byzantine Empire in 1453, all
> spice trade between Asia and Europe ceased because Europeans refused to pay
> exorbitant taxes on goods traveling west through the Ottoman Empire.
> Europeans were left with no option but to explore alternative trade routes
> to the east. In 1497, Vasco da Gama, the great Portuguese explorer and
> navigator, pioneered a Portuguese trade route that connected Lisbon to
> India around the tip of South Africa, and thus started the Age of
> Discovery. Much of his work was built on the efforts of Bartholomeu Dias,
> another Portuguese navigator, who nine years prior rounded the Cape of Good
> Hope, currently Cape Town.
> In 2008 and 2009, customs officials in the Netherlands, Germany, and France
> seized nearly 20 shipments of unpatented generic medicines lawfully
> produced in India that were being transshipped through Europe on their way
> to Africa, Latin America, and other destinations where they could be
> lawfully imported and consumed without violating any domestic patent
> rights.  What was the problem according to complaining Big Pharma companies
> and border officials – transshipment violated fictional patent rules that
> provided that the medicines should be treated as if they had been
> manufactured in Europe.  In one instance there was confusion about an
> alleged trademark infringement for a medicine that merely was labeled with
> the international non-proprietary name.  Indian, Brazil and
> access-to-medicines activists complained bitterly and Brazil and India
> brought separate complaints at the World Trade Organization challenging the
> seizures and the law (EU Border Measures Regulation 1383/2003) upon which
> they were based.  The European Court of Justice has since clarified that
> goods shouldn’t be seized unless they are intended for the European market
> and the EU is discussing a proposed amendment to its border regulations to
> the same effect.  However, the current debate overlooks a much bigger
> question that history can help answer. India, why do you continue to rely
> on European trade routes for medicine exportation to low- and middle-income
> (LMI) countries?
> It seems odd from a geographical perspective that medicines bound for
> Sub-Saharan Africa, for example, should transit through Europe. If
> alternative, efficient trade routes were established and expanded, will it
> negate the need for much of the debate on EU odious border regulation?
> Alleged patent and trademark infringements may become superfluous when
> medicines are not routed through Europe. Like Europe after 1453 that
> refused to pay high taxes on goods resulting in Portuguese-led alternative
> trade routes, perhaps India should do the same. Follow the preliminary lead
> of some India producers who have already changed their routes, cut all
> medicine trade through Europe and look to new trade routes that connect
> generic medicine producers in India directly to the poor in Sub-Saharan
> Africa. There are many risks and the costs of doing so are probably high,
> but so was the Age of Discovery – a treacherous and time-consuming path to
> India around Africa compared to those through the Ottoman Empire. It
> brought Europe out of the Middle Ages and it may open a new age for India’s
> development and South-South trade more broadly. Medicine prices may
> increase in the short-term but it is a price worth paying to secure
> favorable trade routes in the long-term. Better direct trade-route
> partnerships between India and LMI countries are needed. Infrastructure
> improvement at ports (air and sea), tax exemption on all medicine trade
> between partner countries, and an independent agency to certify medicine
> authenticity and to expedite product registration may be among the tools
> used to optimize direct and improved trade in medicines.
> Ancient spice trade and current medicine trade share much in common.
> History has taught us that if trade routes become unfavorable because of
> geopolitical changes, then it may be time to look to alternatives. It has
> also taught us that the risks are high but the benefits overshadow these
> when assessed retrospectively. India, why do you continue to rely on
> European trade routes for medicine exportation to low and middle-income
> (LMI) countries? Do what the Europeans did after 1453; you will not regret
> it in the long-term.
> João L. Carapinha
> __________________________
> Pharmaceutical Policy Analyst
> www.carapinha.com
> Tel: +1 857 540 0702
> Skype: joao.carapinha
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