In its efforts to take up the issue of seizure of Indian drug shipments at European Union (EU) ports with the European Commission (EC) for a possible solution, the Union commerce ministry has started gathering specific information on the issue. The ministry has asked the industry to furnish details about seizures like the name of the port, date, product name, etc.

Loaded with the detailed information on the issue, the commerce ministry will soon approach the EC for finding an amicable solution to the issue which was triggered when the EU countries started implementation of local patent rules rigidly. These EU rules stipulate that any product patent that has been granted in EU countries, if being transported through their countries, is also liable for confiscation under their patent law.

Since then, there were reports of increasing incidence of seizures of Indian drug shipments meant for other countries at EU ports on charges of counterfeiting and patents infringement. Major places where Indian goods were seized included the ports in Miami, Germany, France and The Netherlands.

Meanwhile, sources in the ministry said that the entire issue is very difficult to handle as the EU has made the rules related to patent very strict. But, the ministry will soon take up the matter with the EC with specific information to find a way out.

Earlier, the Pharmaceutical Export Promotion Council (Pharmexcil) had sought commerce ministry's intervention in the matter in finding a solution to the issue. It had asked the ministry to take up the issue with EC to relax the regulations on patent and trade mark issues so that at least the drug shipments on transit cannot be seized at the EU ports on charges of counterfeiting and patents infringement.

Moreover, the Pharmexcil had alerted the pharma exporters about the issue and advised them to ensure that patented products shipped to 'non-patent areas' like Latin American countries are not passing through European ports to avoid inconvenience. The pharma exporters have been using the EU ports to ship their products to other areas of the world like Latin American countries due to its financial viability. If the drug companies use the alternative routes to send the medicines, it is likely to impact the cost competitiveness of Indian generic drugs.