India, Brazil take seizure case to WTO

India and Brazil have filed complaints with the WTO in which they assert the EU wrongfully confiscated generic Indian medicines used to treat illnesses such as AIDS and hypertension. The request for consultations is the first step in a formal WTO dispute and pits the intellectual property rights of drugmakers against access to affordable medicine for people in poor countries, MoneyControl reports.

"Brazil filed today under the WTO dispute mechanism a request for consultation with the EU and the Netherlands concerning the seizure of generic medicines in transit," the Brazilian WTO mission says in a statement, as quoted by AFP.

"These seizures seem to emanate from complaints made by patent holders in Europe," Ambassador Ujal Bhatia Singh of the Indian mission said at a press conference, as quoted by IP Watch. India is concerned both "that IP issues are being raised on drug consignments while they are absolutely not merited" and that there is a pattern of "efforts to confuse the IP issues with those of substandard or spurious medicines" taking place at a number of international fora. Singh also said that two seizures of Indian drugs were carried out in 2009--one in Frankfurt and another in Paris, according to AFP.

According to the Economic Times, over the past year, European customs authorities have seized 18 drug consignments of such Indian companies as Dr Reddy's, Cipla and Lupin. India warned a key WTO panel last year that repeated seizures would hurt legitimate trade of generic drugs and universal access to medicines in developing nations. It also accused the EU of violating WTO norms by confiscating generic drugs made by Indian pharmaceutical companies, AFP reports.

- see Bloomberg's coverage
- read the AFP article
- get more from MoneyControl
- see the IP Watch report
- check out the story in the Economic Times