Events |

MSF workshop at WTO Public Forum

Controversy at customs - the detention of medicines in transit: what impact on access to medicines?

Wednesday 30 September 2009, 14:15 to 16:15
WTO building, Room A

To read a summary of the event by Intellectual Property Watch, visit "WTO Forum: Bypassing International Agreements May Hamper Medicines Access" (11 October 2009).

Recent detainments by European Union countries’ customs authorities of legitimate generic medicines transiting through the EU on their way to developing countries, have attracted the criticism of WTO Member States and civil society alike.  Conducted on the grounds of suspected patent or trademark infringements, the detentions intercept legitimate trade, and could impact the affordability and availability of generic medicines in developing countries.

The incidents highlight questions about the compatibility of EC customs Regulation 1383/2003 and proposed provisions in free trade agreements with  WTO Member States obligations under the TRIPS Agreement,  in particular the Doha  Declaration on the TRIPS Agreement and Public Health, and  in relation to GATT. MSF will explore the legal and practical effect of  these  issues for access to medicines in developing countries, in a roundtable  with academics, member states, suppliers of  medicines, civil society organisations and representatives of the pharmaceutical industry.  

Chair : Michelle Childs, Policy & Advocacy Director, MSF Campaign for Access to Essential Medicines

Panel of  speakers
Prof Carlos Correa, University of Buenos Aires
Sunjay Sudhir, Counsellor, Permanent Mission of India to WTO
Luc Devigne, Head of IP Unit, DG Trade, European Commission
Amb. Dr. Tom Mboya Okeyo, Ambassador/Deputy Permanent Representative of Kenya
José Estanislau do Amaral Souza Neto, Counsellor, Permanent mission of Brazil to WTO

Panel of respondents
Arnout Gieske, Lawyer at Van Diepen Van der Kroef, Amsterdam 
Edwin de Voogd,  Managing Director, IDA Foundation
Representative of the pharmaceutical industry, tbc
Niccolo Rinaldi, Member of the European Parliament
Antony Taubman, Director, Intellectual Property Division, World Trade Organization Discussion & questions open to the floor

Papers from academics and organisations related to the issue:

The South Center exposes the seizures of generic essential drugs by EU customs officials. To see a good overview of this, » click here.

For the legal discussion whether this is allowed under TRIPS, » click here.

To download Xavier Seuba's paper entitled, 'Border Measures Concerning Goods Allegedly Infringing Intellectual Property Rights: The Seizures of Generic Medicines in Transit', » click here.  (PDF)

Frederic Abbott's article 'Worst Fears Realised: The Dutch Confiscation of Medicines Bound from India to Brazil'

The Push for Stronger Enforcement Rules: Implications for Developing Countries' by Carlos Correa

Additional resources related to the issue:

To read the Dutch position from September 6, 2009 by Frank Heemskerk, State Secretary of Economic Affairs and Minister for Foreign Trade, » click here.

To read the European Commission's explanatory note to the EU MSs and MEPs, » click here.