Seizures confusion drags on
Wednesday, November 18, 2009
If there's one thing we don't need in the fight against fake drugs, it's more confusion and misinformation. Yet the issue of the day--the EU's seizures of Indian medicines in transit--is being warped by mix-ups over the most basic of facts.
An article in the Business Standard today claims rather sensationally that: "All the consignments detained so far have eventually been found to be of genuine, off-patent generic drugs on their way to countries where these are not patented."
And therefore, they argue, "there is no evidence" that seizures are defending patients against counterfeit drugs or even genuine intellectual property rights violations.
All the consignments, they say? All medicine consignments seized by EU authorities?
This seems in direct contradiction to EU Taxation and Customs documents, the last of which (published in July 2009) reported that there were 3,207 seizures in 2008, 93 per cent of which were on suspected trademark breaches. Only a minority (6 per cent) were for patent infringement.
EU seizures of medicines increased by 57 per cent on the previous year (2007) following the launch of the MEDI-FAKE action.
This drive saw over 34 million illegal pills seized. The EU details cases of mass seizures of counterfeit medicines, such as 600,000 counterfeit antimalarials that were seized in Brussels (presumably on their way to Africa).
We know that fake medicines are entering and passing through European countries. Even in the UK authorities have reported increased amounts of counterfeit medicines being imported in recent months.
If this crucial context is ignored, and the facts obfuscated, there will never be a solution delivering free trade rights and access to high quality medicines.