RIO DE JANEIRO Jan 23 Brazil said it would
file a complaint at the World Trade Organization over the
seizure by Dutch authorities of a shipment of a generic high
blood pressure drug made in India.
Local foreign and health ministries said a company claiming
to have intellectual property rights to the arterial
hypertension drug losartan in the Netherlands requested customs
authorities seize a shipment of a generic version of the drug
in transit from India to Brazil, two countries where the patent
is not protected.
The Brazilian government can withhold intellectual property
rights for a drug if it considers it "in the public interest."
Its health-care system provides free drug treatment for certain
conditions such as AIDS and high blood pressure.
"The Brazilian government feels that the decision by the
Dutch authorities to detain the basic material critical for the
public health of a developing country ... a serious step
backward on the question of universal access to drugs," said
the note released by the Brazilian ministries late Thursday.
The statement also said the government would take its
complaint to the executive council of the World Trade
Organization in Geneva.
High blood pressure is one of the leading causes of death
The cargo of generic losartan that was seized in Rotterdam
was sent back to India, where it was manufactured by Dr.
Reddy's, the ministries' note said. The drug was being imported
by Brazil's EMS.
Losartan is the generic name for the drug Cozaar that was
co-developed by Merck & Co and DuPont Co.
(Reporting by Pedro Fonseca; writing by Reese Ewing)