Geneva: Developing countries accused the European Union (EU) at a meeting of the World Trade Organization (WTO) on Monday of seeking to use tough intellectual property laws to seize generic drugs, putting lives at risk in emerging nations, where the cheaper medicines are often destined.
At the WTO meeting, Brazil and India criticized the EU over an Indian generic drug to treat high blood pressure that was seized late last year while transiting the Netherlands for Brazil.
Brazil’s WTO ambassador Roberto Azevedo told WTO’s General Council that the case reflected a trend by industrialized countries to try and circumvent global trade rules by pushing tough intellectual property standards in other bodies, such as the World Customs Organization and the World Health Organization.
The case touches on a sensitive issue between rich and poor countries—access to affordable medicine—and has been cited by developing countries as an example of rising protectionism in the economic crisis.
“We have raised the issue here with the expectation that the EC (European Commission) will urgently review the relevant regulations and the actions of the national authorities based on such regulations, and bring them in conformity with the letter and spirit of the TRIPs (trade-related intellectual property rights) agreement and the rules-based WTO system,” India’s statement to the WTO council said.
EU ambassador Eckart Guth criticized the “highly emotional debate” and warned fellow WTO members against jumping to wrong conclusions or blowing the case out of proportion.
Mint’s Radhieka Pandeya in New Delhi contributed to this story.