EU agrees to amend its law to avoid seizure of Indian drugs

EU agrees to amend its law to avoid seizure of Indian drugs

New Delhi: Giving in to India’s protest against seizures of drugs en route to Africa and Latin America by European Union customs, the 27-nation block on Monday said it is changing its internal legislation to avoid such instances.

“We are committed that what had happened the year-and-a half ago doesn’t happen again," Ambassador of the EU Delegation to India Daniele Smadja told reporters.

India has threatened to take the European Union (EU) to the WTO against drugs seizure by customs authorities of various member states of the European Union over alleged patent infringements.

“To make it sure that it (seizure of Indian drug consignment) will not happen again... we are even changing one of our (internal) regulation in order to make sure that there are confusions in the mind of our customs," she added.

While the issue has already been raised at a WTO’s dispute settlement forum, India has kept the option open to formally lodge a complaint against the EU at the multilateral trade body headquartered at Geneva.

As per the information available, in the last one year, European authorities have seized 18 drug consignments of Indian companies, including that of Dr Reddy’s, Cipla and Lupin, that have been exported mainly to Africa and Latin America.

According to the European authorities, the generic drugs, mainly anti-AIDS and anti-cancer infringed patent in Europe. Indian firms have maintained that these drugs were not patented neither in India nor in Africa and Latin America.

Last week, commerce and industry minister Anand Sharma said that the government would examine if the proposed changes in EU law regarding seizure of drugs are adequate to address the concerns of India’s Rs1 lakh crore Indian generic medicines industry.

“EU has conveyed to us that they are willing to amend that notification, but that amendment... we are examining whether it would be adequate to address the issues raised," Sharma has said.