India, EU patch up drug-transit dispute

India's spat with European regulators is no more. Negotiators say India will withdraw its complaint filed at the World Trade Organization, now that it has reached an agreement with E.U. trade police. The Europeans say they'll stop holding up generic-drug shipments from India, and will only check in-transit packages for potential counterfeiting.

Indian officials have been fighting counterparts in the E.U. over the treatment of drug-company shipments. Even those bound for countries outside Europe have been subject to long delays, India says, putting its pharma companies at a disadvantage.

The transit issues have been resolved as part of negotiations over a controversial free trade agreement. Indian Trade and Industry Minister Anand Sharma and E.U. trade chief Karel De Gucht told Reuters that the transit dispute had been resolved, the BBC reports. "This is a great breakthrough," Sharma said, "which will of course lead to a suspension of WTO proceedings, so the dispute is over."

The trade agreement is still under negotiation, with officials predicting a conclusion to the deal in the spring. Some observers--including public health advocates--aren't thrilled with the deal, because they fear that IP protections will limit access to drugs for patients in the developing world.

- read the BBC story