Lilly poised to settle trade fight with Indian firms

One long-running battle over generic-drug shipments through the EU is about to be resolved. The Financial Times reports that some Indian generics makers who saw their copycat versions of Eli Lilly ($LLY) drugs impounded by Dutch officials will receive a cash payment from the Indianapolis-based drug company.

Authorities at Schiphol Airport in the Netherlands seized generics shipments in 2008 and 2009, saying the drugs violated intellectual property rules in the EU. But the drugs were only en route to their final destinations in developing countries, where the EU patents did not apply. The seizures provoked an outcry both in India and the emerging markets where the drugs were bound.

As the FT notes, India and Brazil appealed to the World Trade Organization and were later joined by six other countries, including China and Turkey. Meanwhile, some Indian drugmakers rerouted their shipments to avoid Europe; Cipla, for instance, diverted $100 million worth of annual shipments away from Europe to Dubai and Johannesburg. That inspired Dutch officials to reach out to help settle the dispute.

Lilly was only one branded drugmaker that benefited from the Dutch seizures, and it's not the only company working on a settlement. "The Dutch embassy in India has contacted companies with a view to restoring trade," Cipla chief Yusuf Hamied told the FT. "Companies involved in this dispute are now approaching Indian companies to settle."

- read the FT piece