India fights Big Pharma interference in E.U.

India hasn't been happy with the world lately. It had to fight with China to get that country to crack down on counterfeiters that not only exported fake drugs to Africa--a key market for Indian drugmakers--but slapped those fakes with a "Made in India" label. Now, it's preparing to launch an offensive against the European customs delays that have been plaguing India's pharma industry.

The country plans to file a complaint with the World Trade Organization, the Wall Street Journal reports, alleging that the E.U. allowed Big Pharma to use patent laws to have customs agencies detain generics on their way to developing countries. More than 20 times over the past nine months or so, border inspectors in the Netherlands and Germany have held up Indian meds, saying they violated E.U. patent laws--even though the drugs weren't intended for sale there, but had just stopped in transit.

Requesting the detention of those drugs--including meds for AIDS, Alzheimer's, and heart disease--were some of the biggest names in pharma, according to documents obtained by the WSJ. Sanofi-Aventis, Novartis and Eli Lilly among them. And some of those products were detained for as long as eight months. "We see this as an attack on the Indian generics industry," Rajeev Kher, joint secretary of commerce in India, told the Journal. E.U. officials, however, say they have the right to enforce IP laws in their countries.

Some trade experts say India may just win this fight. The E.U.'s argument--that goods in transit have to comply with local regulations--is "shaky," the WSJ reports.

- read the Journal article