DAVOS-Brazil, India denounce Dutch generic drug seizure

DAVOS, Switzerland, Jan 30 (Reuters) - Brazil and India jointly denounced on Friday the recent seizure by Dutch authorities of a generic high blood pressure drug made in India while in transit to Brazil.

A statement issued after a meeting of Brazilian Foreign Minister Celso Amorim and Indian Trade Minister Kamal Nath on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum in Davos said the move was a setback for the internationally guaranteed principle of universal access to medicine.

"The Ministers also shared the conviction that measures of this nature have a highly negative systemic impact on legitimate trade of generic medicines, South-South commerce, and national public health policies," it said.

Nath has cited the case as an example of rising protectionist pressures. The global economic crisis has intensified concerns that countries could resort to more protectionism to defend jobs, which economists say would deepen and prolong the recession.

The European Union is also charged with fuelling protectionism with its decision last week to reintroduce export subsidies on dairy produce -- something allowed under current trade rules but which would be banned under a deal in the World Trade Organisation's long-running Doha round.

Australia and other farm exporters have complained to Brussels about the move.

Brazil and India will raise the generic drugs issue at next week's general council meeting of the WTO on Feb. 3.

Dutch authorities said a company claiming to have intellectual property rights to the arterial hypertension drug losartan in the Netherlands had asked customs to seize a shipment of a generic version. The patent is not protected in India and Brazil.

Like many developing countries, Brazil argues that it can withhold intellectual property rights for a drug if there is an overriding public interest. High blood pressure is one of the leading causes of death in Brazil.

The drug seized in Rotterdam was sent back to India, where it was manufactured by Dr. Reddy's Laboratories


. Losartan is the generic name for the drug Cozaar developed jointly by Merck & Co


and Dupont Co



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) (Reporting by Jonathan Lynn; editing by Erica Billingham)