India and Brazil will jointly work at the WTO to raise the issue of generic drugs being classified as counterfeit drugs by some African countries on account of the propaganda unleashed by the multinational companies (MNCs). African countries like Kenya and Uganda have recently come out with draft Bills in this regard under which generic drugs will be treated as counterfeit drugs.
Once the Bill is passed, even a Ugandan agent of a product of an intellectual property rights holder in another country can rightfully claim under section 18(1) of the Bill that a generic product is a counterfeit.
Senior officials in the Union commerce ministry said that the actions by the African countries in this regard are against the basic spirit of the TRIPS. The officials said that apart from India, Brazil will also join the issue and the matter will be taken up at the WTO jointly by India and Brazil. The officials had recently visited WTO headquarters in Geneva in this connection and met representatives at WTO to discuss the issue and to take legal opinion on the issue.
Indian officials are worried that apart from Kenya and Uganda, other African countries may also adopt same approach in future. Such actions can place Indian pharma industry in great difficulty as several Indian companies are exporting generic drugs to African countries.
Uganda has come out with a draft bill 'Uganda Counterfeit Goods Bill, 2008' under which generic medicines are to be classified as counterfeit drugs. Several NGOs working in the health sector have come out against the bill asking the Ugandan authorities not to mislead the public that generics are counterfeits and also to ensure that the rights of generic manufacturers are preserved in the legislative process.
The African countries are learnt to be under the influence of a campaign unleashed by MNCs against generic drugs. The MNCs are spreading the rumours in the African countries that the generic drugs are spurious drugs and only patented drugs are safe. Besides, the MNCs have also started a campaign in the African countries confusing them of spurious drugs with counterfeit drugs.