Readers may recall that we’ve discussed the issue of the EU customs authorities detaining generic pharmaceuticals, while in transit between developing countries, at European ports of transit. As I’ve argued elsewhere, such practice and indeed the law which it is based on, EC Reg. 1383/03, appear to be inconsistent with international law, specifically the GATT and the TRIPS Agreement.
In July last year, the Indian government indicated that it reached an “understanding” with the EU, whereby the EU assured India that generic drugs originating in India and destined for other developing countries would not be detained while in transit through Europe. I was quite skeptical about this “understanding”, and it seems my fears were not completely unfounded. Recent reports suggest that the EU is returning back to its old ways. According to a report published on January 23, 29 cartons of drugs sent from India were detained by European customs authorities for nearly two weeks. The final destination for the consignment was “South America”. This incident reinforces my arguments on the systemic nature of the problem. Let’s see what ramifications, if any, this has, and how the situation develops further.