Trouble Stays: 40 Nations Nearing Pact On Generics Seizure
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09 October 2010
New Delhi, India
The drug seizure agreement with the European Union (EU) may be an eyewash as another international treaty will allow 40 countries to seize in transit generic medicines.
Indian drugmakers and health activists have voiced strong concerns against Anti–Counterfeiting Trade Agreement, or ACTA , which they allege emboldens EU’s earlier move and will affect Indian drug exports . The final draft of ACTA released last weekend follows the 11th and final round of the negotiations held in Tokyo last month. Although some delegate countries had expressed reservation about certain parts of text, the treaty is expected to be signed soon with minor changes, Indian industry executives say.
DG Shah, secretary general at Indian Pharmaceutical Alliance, said the provisions under ACTA can be misused and legitimate registered Indian medicines can be seized. "ACTA goes beyond being a multilateral trade agreement and is seeking to formalise what the EU tried to do through the Free Trade Agreement with support of non–European countries," he said.
On Thursday, commerce & industry minister Anand Sharma said India will withdraw the complaint filed at the WTO over confiscation of Indian generic drugs at European countries after EU amended its rules.
In the last couple of years, Customs authorities in a number of European countries seized about 20 drug consignments shipped from India enroute various African and Latin American countries. This was based on complaints by European companies holding patents for those drugs in their countries, who claimed the products were counterfeit.
"The text (of the treaty of ACTA) still promotes an EU–style legal regime that would facilitate cross–border seizures of legitimate and lawful generic medicines that transit through any ACTA member," Sean Flynn, a law professor at Washington College of Law said in a statement.
Although, India is not a treaty member of ACTA, locally made generic drugs can be seized at the 40 countries who are going to be the signatories to the treaty. These include the EU countries, US, Canada, Mexico , Switzerland, New Zealand, Morocco, Japan, Australia, S. Korea and Singapore.
India is considered the pharmacy of the world because of its ability to produce and export drugs at low–cost and huge quantities . The ACTA could adversely impact exports of medicines worth about . 42,000 crore annually, say drug exporters. Prathiba Singh, a Delhi–based lawyer said, "The definition of Intellectual Property provided in ACTA brings into its ambit virtually all IP rights. ACTA should be restricted to trademarks, copyrights and its related rights only."