Info Service on Health Issues (Jan09/02)
WHO/Big Pharma counterfeit plans receive harsh criticism
The next session of the Executive Board of the WHO (19 to 27 January) is to consider a report and draft resolution on "Counterfeit Medicines" driven mainly by the work of WHO's partnership with IMPACT task force on counterfeits (WHO EB124/14 - see also SUNS #6618 dated 15 January 2009).
a 15 January letter to Indian Prime Minister Man Mohan Singh, the Small
and Medium Enterprise Pharma Confederation of India (small-scale pharmaceutical
producers) calls for the total rejection of the work of IMPACT. It regards
the WHO Secretariat proposal on Counterfeit Medicines a serious move
at the international level which threatens exports from
IMPACT, the task force partnership between WHO and "stakeholders",
nor its work is acceptable, the letter from the Indian small-scale pharmaceutical
producers says. It advises that
Under the garb of coining a new definition, multinational companies should not be allowed to bring in issues of quality, adulterated and spurious drugs, solely to muddle facts and surreptitiously use it to curtail Indian exports.
First, it cites the dominant influence of multinational pharmaceutical companies in IMPACT. The International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Association (IFPMA) has and is playing a leading role, it is the head of IMPACT's technology working group and more importantly is a part of the planning group, the main decision-making body of IMPACT.
Second, through leadership and funding, the European Union is pushing its own agenda to promote its own pharmaceutical industry via intellectual property rules. The EU is trying to translate their national policy into an international norm through IMPACT.
Specifically, the letter states, the EU has given significant funds to IMPACT and particularly to the promotion of IMPACT's "Principles and Elements for National Legislation against Counterfeit Medical Products" which proposes an international criminal regime for so-called "counterfeit" drugs for enforcement by both customs officials and drug regulatory authorities.
letter refers to cases of shipments seized by EU customs officials,
under their laws, even though the drugs are safe and efficacious. Multinational
pharmaceutical companies could try and raise complaints about intellectual
property rights infringement to effectively stop the supply of medicines
to the Mint newspaper, a $500,000 consignment from Dr. Reddy's Laboratories
Mint reports that
to Zee News,
Mint reports that Leena Menghaney of Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF)
The letter also charges that IMPACT "has taken shelter behind the WHO Secretariat which has given them the cloak of legitimacy when it is actually nothing more than a multinational industry and developed country agenda to stop exports of medicines."
letter also refers to a national initiative at the behest Big Pharma
that burdened local industry with several measures but which lead to
no extra purity of medicines. It noted the multinational takeover is
another letter from the
It states that many developed country pharmaceutical industry organisations have actively participated in formulating the definition. IMPACT promotes stringent intellectual property enforcement to circumvent fair competition in generic pharmaceuticals trade in and from developing countries.
The consequences that flow from the IMPACT definition, which conflates issues and has many ambiguities, may have serious legal and economic implications and could undermine flexibilities prevailing in current international IPR agreements, CENTAD states.
The concern regarding falsifying medicinal products is limited to the issue of spurious and sub-standard drugs. It proposes that both the draft report and the resolution be opposed. The Secretariat should be requested to start the process afresh by adopting a legitimate member-state-driven agenda. +