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BW Businessworld

Roadblock Cleared

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commerce and industry minister anand Sharma has said that a dispute between India and the European Union (EU) regarding seizure of in-transit drug consignments has been resolved. "We had taken up the issue very strongly with the EU trade commissioner. The seizures are in violation of the TRIPS (trade-related aspects of intellectual property rights) agreement and the EU has assured to take all steps to prevent this from happening again, even if this means amending certain rules," Sharma said.
Over the past year, European port authorities, notably Amsterdam and Frankfurt, have seized several generic drugs from Indian companies headed towards Latin American or African markets, alleging patent infringement. In 2008, in the Netherlands alone, 16 cases were from India and one from China.
Cipla CEO Amar Lulla has confirmed that they are no longer facing any problems. "No incidents have been reported lately," he said.
In November last year, the Amsterdam customs had seized a Cipla consignment — olanzapine, used for psychiatric disorders, and rivastigmine, prescribed to treat dementia — headed for Peru. While US pharma major Eli Lilly and Switzerland's Novartis AG respectively hold a patent in Europe for olanzapine and rivastigmine, the drugs are not patented in Peru. Although EU regulations allow authorities to take action against goods infringing intellectual property rights which are being re-exported, TRIPS categorically states that enforcement measures (including border measures) need to avoid creating barriers to legitimate trade. (This story was published in Businessworld Issue Dated 23-11-2009)