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Protecting Generic Medicines in Transit Through the EU

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For over a year, the European Union (EU) has been negotiating a review of its trademark legislation and drawing up new provisions to include in the law. The draft law features a new right to enforce a European trademark on any goods passing through the EU – that is in transit – to other markets, as a new way to combat counterfeiting. 

Our concern is that EU customs officials will mistakenly classify legitimate generic medicines as counterfeits and incorrectly impound them while in transit through the EU to patients in developing countries, and thus deprive them of life-saving treatment.

MSF depends on quality-assured generic drugs imported from India—and transported through the EU to our projects—to carry out our medical work in developing countries. Any interruption of supplies is damaging to our operations.

Wrongful seizure and detention of generic medicines in transit can lead to harmful delays for people who need access to life-saving medicines.

Given that the EU already has a history of wrongful detentions and seizures of legitimate generic medicines passing though its territory, these proposed new rules are a step in the wrong direction.

As the negotiations of the new European trademark rules are expected to conclude early in 2015, MSF, together with 49 other organisations, patient and community groups from around the world, have written an Open Letter to the European Commission, the EU Member States and the European Parliament in a final appeal to exclude these harmful provisions.

You can read the letter here

Watch this video to understand more about the difference between legitimate generic medicines and counterfeit medicines.