Kamal NathUnion commerce minister Kamal Nath will soon meet European Union (EU) leaders to find an amicable solution to the issue of increasing incidence of seizures of Indian drug shipments at EU ports, during its transit to other countries, on charges of counterfeiting and patent infringement. In this regard, the minister will take up the issue with his Dutch counterpart on February 10.

According to senior commerce ministry officials, Kamal Nath will ask the visiting Dutch minister to relax 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. He will provide data of Indian drug shipments which were seized at EU ports recently. The commerce ministry had recently gathered data from the Indian companies about the seizure of Indian drugs at EU ports to take up the issue with the European Commission.

Kamal Nath will also provide the details to the Dutch minister on the recent actions of the customs authorities at Rotterdam in the Netherlands who seized shipments of the generic drug Losartan, which was manufactured in India and was in transit to Brazil. Losartan, indicated to treat high blood pressure, is not under patent protection either in India or Brazil and thus can be imported freely in Brazil. The drug shipment has been returned to India.

For the last some months, 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.

The issue was triggered when the EU countries some months back 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, the Indian companies were up in arms against the rigid EU rules and have been knocking at the government's door to take up the issue with the European Commission. 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.