RIO DE JANEIRO, Jan 23 (Reuters) - 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 among Brazilians.
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