The latest addition to the rather questionable series of seizures by Dutch officials were a consignment of HIV/AIDS medicines by Aurobindo Pharma Ltd meant for use in Nigeria. The purchase, by the Clinton Foundation through a UN Agency, UNITAID, is the 6th incident of an export by an Indian drug firm being seized in transit in Europe for shipments meant for non-European markets. The grounds on which they were allegedly seized are that they contained counterfeit goods. UNITAID protested sharply against this seizure, proclaiming on its website that the seized goods are in fact not counterfeits and neither do they infringe any intellectual property rights, also raising concerns about the patients whom these drugs had been shipped in for.
“They are medicines used in second-line treatment of HIV/AIDS manufactured by Indian company Aurobindo. These medicines have been prequalified by the WHO and have received tentative approval by the United States Food and Drug Administration,” it said.
Why exactly have drugs which have been prequalified by the WHO been seized by the Dutch officials for being counterfeit?
It would be interesting to see how the EU tries to show how this aligns with their WTO TRIPS obligations of 'avoiding the creation of barriers to trade and providing safeguards against their abuse' , especially in the light of the Doha Declaration wherein all members confirmed their determination to promote access to medicine to all. Hopefully, the relevant parties will realise the folly in sidestepping public health interests while trying to maximise intellectual property right standards to a higher standard than is required.