Big Pharma Abusing Patent Laws To Seize And Destroy Legal Indian Generic Drugs

from the helping-the-needy dept

The deeper you look at how pharmaceutical companies use and abuse the patent system, the worse it looks. It's much more horrifying than what's happening in the tech industry in many ways (especially since lives are often at stake). The latest such example highlights the desperate lengths that Big Pharma will go to, in attempts to stamp out perfectly legal competition. India has a legal and thriving generic drug market that was built up initially via a ban on pharma patents in India (which, as an aside, shows again that a ban on patents can actually help create a thriving industry). More recently, India was forced, almost entirely against its own wishes, to implement patents on drugs. Even so, many of its generics are not covered by patents, and there are a number of developing countries that also do not recognize patents on certain drugs. Thus, it should be perfectly legal for Indian generics to ship those drugs from India to developing nations. And... it is. Except that pharma companies have convinced EU trade officials to seize and/or destroy such shipments that pass through EU borders in transit to these developing nations.

Thus, if a legal Indian generic drug maker has a shipment of those drugs to Peru, where the same drugs are also perfectly legal and not blocked by patent law -- those drugs might still get seized because en route to Peru, they may pass through some European countries, where Big Pharma has used its lobbying clout to get customs officials to search for and confiscate any such medicine, claiming they are violating patents in the EU. Because of this, the Indian firms need to spend a lot more money and ship via other means.

To deal with this, India is looking to file a complaint with the WTO, and at least according to the experts in the WSJ article above, India has a strong likelihood of winning. Big Pharma and the border patrol folks are defending their actions, claiming it's to stop counterfeit drugs, but that's not what's happening here at all. These drugs are not counterfeits. They're legal generics, not intended for the EU at all, and they're being confiscated for no good reason other than the fact that Big Pharma doesn't want to compete.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  •  
    identicon
    Pete Austin, Aug 11th, 2009 @ 9:59am

    Subscription-free links

    8 June ... NEW DELHI: Even after India raised concerns with EU, troubles of generic companies which export drugs to developing countries through Europe are far from over as seizures by Dutch customs still continue. In yet another case, a shipment of popular antibiotic, Amoxicillin was seized in Frankfurt recently. The drugs manufactured by domestic company Medopharm were shipped to Republic of Vanuatu, an island nation in the Pacific Ocean, through Frankfurt.
    http://www.activery.com/pharmaceutical-market-news/150-pharma-firms-continue-to-face-pat ent-violation-charges-in-europe

    Reprint of WSJ Article
    http://www.biovalley.ch/content.cfm?nav=4&content=10&command=details&id=10970

     

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    Thomas (profile), Aug 11th, 2009 @ 10:00am

    Big pharma

    is not interested in healing or helping people; they are interested in making money. They would much rather make 100 million helping 100,000 people than making 20 million and saving lives for 500,000.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 11th, 2009 @ 10:02am

    This seems like market collusion. But remember that Big Pharma makes money when they separate people from their money in exchange for medication that costs 25ยข to manufacture.

    Remember, kids that's not all they manufacture. The marketing machine manufactures the 'need' to be healthy, feeling good, and having a 28-inch penis that stays erect for more than 14 hours.

    Next, they may go after the Treadmobile because it threatens some weight loss drug from a pharmaceutical company. Just watch.

     

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    The Infamous Joe (profile), Aug 11th, 2009 @ 10:03am

    Come on!

    Mike, for Pete's Sake, don't link to an article that has a paywall! You, of all people, should know better.

    Sheesh. :)

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 11th, 2009 @ 10:06am

    This is no worse than the US seizure of funds being transferred from one bank in one third world country to a different bank in a different third world country because the funds pass through the US in digital format.;

     

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    Designerfx (profile), Aug 11th, 2009 @ 10:29am

    big pharma does more than that in a bad way

    read here and you'll see, pfizer is an easy example.

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Aug 11th, 2009 @ 10:48am

      Re: big pharma does more than that in a bad way

      Just goes to show you who runs this country (and the world). Not the citizens but the rich and powerful corporations.

       

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    Gene Quinn, Aug 11th, 2009 @ 10:44am

    So how would you stop the black market?

    Given that you have such a problem with this I am sure you have considered and have a solution for how to make sure that these drugs that find themselves entering the EU are not diverted and enter the black market. I am anxious to hear how you would guarantee that these drugs are not diverted. I suspect you haven't thought about that, which makes your opinions in this post typical of those who consider only the first level of a problem and reach unsupportable conclusions based on a fraction of the facts.

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Aug 11th, 2009 @ 10:50am

      Re: So how would you stop the black market?

      Black markets exist because the law does something to label them black markets.

       

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      Anonymous Coward, Aug 11th, 2009 @ 10:53am

      Re: So how would you stop the black market?

      Well the best way to keep that from happening is obviously a preemptive strike against the factories that produce these evil life saving drugs. careful though, India has teh nukes

       

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      Ghost, Aug 11th, 2009 @ 10:55am

      Re: So how would you stop the black market?

      Interesting... so to your point; what proof or guarantee you the or the EU manufactures of the drugs provide that those will not get passed on to the illegal drug market?
      Gotta love your BS scare tactics; just because someone else makes them they can fall in the wrong hands BUT if WE the money grubbing "responsible" parties make it they won't fall in the wrong hands?
      HORSE SHIT

       

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      Jerry Cronin, Aug 11th, 2009 @ 11:09am

      Re: So how would you stop the black market?

      I am anxious to hear how you would guarantee that ANY drugs are not diverted.

      Obviously the only sane answer is to confiscate all drugs, everywhere, from everyone, and destroy them.

       

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      Thomas Jones, Aug 11th, 2009 @ 11:58am

      Re: So how would you stop the black market?

      There is no garuntee they won't enter the Black market (although the most probable vectors are customs agents and shipping company employees, since the drugs are GOING to somewhere outside the EU and without the help of someone handles them while there they WILL get to Peru)

      However there is no need for such a guarantee, for two reasons, one these are legit drugs so they are probably just as safe as the ones from big pharma, so better these on the black market than counterfeits, two the black market will exist either way, these drugs being legit have no impact on it.

      Last these drugs ARE NOT COUNTERFEIT, they are generic, same chemical as the Big Pharma drug, just without the branding.

      The solution is just let the drugs pass through to Peru.

       

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      Mike Masnick (profile), Aug 11th, 2009 @ 6:49pm

      Re: So how would you stop the black market?

      Given that you have such a problem with this I am sure you have considered and have a solution for how to make sure that these drugs that find themselves entering the EU are not diverted and enter the black market. I am anxious to hear how you would guarantee that these drugs are not diverted.

      Are you seriously suggesting that preventing a black market from developing is more important than letting legitimate sales go through?

      As others noted, the only reason there's a black market in the first place is because of an unfair market barrier.

      Even so, you would fight the black market the way *all* black markets are fought: by investigating the actual market -- not by assuming that all legal goods passing through a port are bound for a black market.

       

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    Anony1, Aug 11th, 2009 @ 11:42am

    @Ghost: Troll elsewhere.

     

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    Christopher (profile), Aug 11th, 2009 @ 11:50am

    It's not a big pharma problem...

    ...it's a publicly-traded company problem. It's a problem for any company that wants a profit and answers to shareholders. Period. If Sony could capture 80% of the television market by clubbing baby seals, they would. If Coca-Cola could wipe out Pepsi by a legal loophole, they'd exploit it in a second.

    Don't limit your imagination to big pharma. Likewise, don't knock the advance of big pharma, either. It's not ginseng that's keeping you alive after your wild 80s, it's a cocktail of antivirals.

    -C

     

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    SEVAKNIVAS, Aug 11th, 2009 @ 12:17pm

    Big Pharma Companies are easy "whipping boy" targets ????

    Which generic drug company invented LIFE SAVING DRUG for BIG PHARMA COMPANIES TO COPY AND MAKE ENORMOUS PROFITS ???
    ALL INVENTIONS MUST BE PROTECTED IN PERPETUITY BY THE INVENTOR.

    JUST LIKE A PUBLISHER/WRITER/MUSICIAN HAS COPYRIGHTS IN PERPETUITY.

    SO GENERIC DRUG COMPANIES GO AND DO YOUR OWN RESEARCH, DEVELOPMENT, MARKETING INSTEAD OF BEING PARASITES. YOU MAKE HANDSOME PROFITS DO YOU NOT without PUTTING YOUR HANDS IN YOUR POCKET !!!!!!!!

    SEND YOUR COPYCAT DRUGS TO ANY COUNTRIES BUT BE PREPARED TO PAY THE FULL COST OF SENDING THEM WITHOUT INFRINGING EU OR ANY OTHER RULES. CROCODILE TEARS !!!

    AND WHEN RESEARCH BASED PHARMA COMPANIES DEFEND THEIR PROPERTY, THE PARASITES CRY FOUL !!!!! How amazing.

     

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      Dark Helmet (profile), Aug 11th, 2009 @ 1:16pm

      Re: Big Pharma Companies are easy "whipping boy" targets ????

      ....awesome.

      That was honestly one of the most ridiculous misinterpretations of how a business works or what its legal basis for doing business that I've ever seen on this site, which is something in and of itself.

      Attention stupid trolls: a large portion of this magical "research" being done is on the public dime, so stop pretending you're spending it. More importantly, research, when itemized correctly, isn't what you're spending the most money on, it's marketing or some innocuous synonym for marketing.

      That is all.

       

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        KenG, Aug 17th, 2009 @ 10:12am

        Re: Re: Big Pharma Companies are easy "whipping boy" targets ????

        Yea awesome. If the government paid for the R&D then guess who owns the patent? Really people this is economics 101. Grow up and smell reality. If you don't want new drugs then fine don't let anyone profit from creating them.

         

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      KenG, Aug 17th, 2009 @ 10:04am

      Re: Big Pharma Companies are easy "whipping boy" targets ????

      I agree completely. If you want to kill R&D then all you need to do is prevent companies from profiting from their intellectual property. Everyone will then be equal and all the bull shit about making profits off of sick people can end. Today anyone can buy cheap older drugs where the patents have expired. But that is not good enough. They want the latest and greatest but they don't want to pay for it somehow they think it is just find to steal it.

       

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    pcastillo, Aug 11th, 2009 @ 12:30pm

    Combatting counterfitting via SMS

    Mpedigree in Ghana fights counterfeit drugs by making use of mobile technology: http://tech.ashoka.org/SMS+saves+lives+and+even+fights+counterfeiting

     

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    james, Aug 11th, 2009 @ 1:33pm

    BIG PHARMA

    I dont want you playing in my sand box,
    I'm telling my daddy on you!

    as far as im concerned they're just a bunch of titty babys
    and they dont care who they hurt or step on to get they want
    because isn't just about the $$$$$$ end the end

     

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    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 11th, 2009 @ 1:37pm

    Research on the "public dime"

    Easy solution ... cut all of this magical "research" funding then. Maybe we could be paying some of these non-greedy (RIGHT) generics manufactures to produce the stuff that all of the magical government funded "research" is providing.

    Yeah, there is measurable magical government funded "research". If there were it would be a clusterfuck just like everything else the government controls. (Soon enough ... soon enough!)

     

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    Noise above Law, Aug 11th, 2009 @ 1:49pm

    Bring the Bias

    "...thriving generic drug market that was built up initially via a ban on pharma patents in India (which, as an aside, shows again that a ban on patents can actually help create a thriving industry)."

    The anti-patent bias is thunderous.
    The thriving industry, due to the ban, is what most people would call piracy. How much of the thriving industry was derived from pure research and how much was simply appropriated from research done outside of India?

     

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    identicon
    SEVAKNIVAS, Aug 11th, 2009 @ 2:30pm

    Big Pharma Companies are easy "whipping boy" targets ????

    Which generic drug company invented LIFE SAVING DRUG for BIG PHARMA COMPANIES TO COPY AND MAKE ENORMOUS PROFITS ???
    ALL INVENTIONS MUST BE PROTECTED IN PERPETUITY BY THE INVENTOR.

    JUST LIKE A PUBLISHER/WRITER/MUSICIAN HAS COPYRIGHTS IN PERPETUITY.

    SO GENERIC DRUG COMPANIES GO AND DO YOUR OWN RESEARCH, DEVELOPMENT, MARKETING INSTEAD OF BEING PARASITES. YOU MAKE HANDSOME PROFITS DO YOU NOT without PUTTING YOUR HANDS IN YOUR POCKET !!!!!!!!

    SEND YOUR COPYCAT DRUGS TO ANY COUNTRIES BUT BE PREPARED TO PAY THE FULL COST OF SENDING THEM WITHOUT INFRINGING EU OR ANY OTHER RULES. CROCODILE TEARS !!!

    AND WHEN RESEARCH BASED PHARMA COMPANIES DEFEND THEIR PROPERTY, THE PARASITES CRY FOUL !!!!! How amazing.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

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      Thomas (profile), Aug 11th, 2009 @ 2:55pm

      Re: Big Pharma Companies are easy "whipping boy" targets ????

      "publisher/writer/musician has copyrights in perpetuity."
      I don't think so. There is a definite time limit.

      Patents arent perpetual either. Take a look at some of the laws about it.

      the big pharma companies don't do the research - it's mostly funded by government grants.

      troll.

       

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    johnney, Aug 11th, 2009 @ 6:00pm

    Very large corporations spend money to 'disuade', if you will, smaller competitors by any dumbass legal means. get it?
    Neither the health providers themselves, NOR the Rx's, have any proper laws which protect, well, everyone. In the US, profits by the leading health providers rose over 400% from '01-'07 (love those new are you depressed commercials that have popped up).
    And yet we all stand in line and pretend that healthcare, or more bluntly, a human being, is just a matter of money. Where is the exit out of this room of complete stupid fucking assholes? Needless to say I have considered the pharmu's to be nothing more than a maggot on every society for long enough for this very reason.
    The only law which should prevent such shipments is the one in which it states these drugs are not what they say, but ones that could actually harm, or worse. Funny I didn't catch that.
    Who's to blame? A POS gov which only concern is how new the jet is that they demand not be late.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 11th, 2009 @ 9:01pm

    "The EU argument that goods in transit must comply with local regulatory requirements is shaky"

    Two questions, why does India ship drugs to Peru through EU countries?

    Second, if child porn were legal in India and was being shipped to a country that it was also legal, would customs in any country be allowed to stop it? How about slavery? If people were being shipped between two slave allowing countries, wouldn't that be stopped?

    Mike, your comment about it being perfectly legal "Thus, it should be perfectly legal for Indian generics to ship those drugs from India to developing nations. And... it is." isn't correct. It may or may not be, you may think it should be, but a court may rule otherwise. Maybe, maybe not.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 12th, 2009 @ 1:12am

    strange

    -why should drugs be shipped from India to Peru via Europe?
    sounds as reasonable as to ship them via the moon...

    -products which are not infringing patents would not be stopped for longer than necessary for a check...

    sounds more like a copier of expensive R&D caught with a smoking gun...

     

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    lemoniee, Jan 26th, 2010 @ 7:35pm

    generics

    I get most of my generic meds online via www.medsheaven.com , was always satisfied with their service.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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