Sunday, September 13, 2015

Medicines, an Intellectual Property

Counterfeit, substandard and fake medicines pose a great risk. Counterfeited clothes, bags and accessories have economic effects, loss of profits and perhaps cause financial downfall. Employment and income which is supposed to be directed to the legitimate brand are being distributed to counterfeiters and imitations. However, the concern of brand owners are being disputed since counterfeited items are helping these brands market their name.

Counterfeit Medicines do not rock the same boat. Not only would the manufacturers lose economically. Fraudulence in this field also poses a great risk in health. The World Health Organization (WHO) which plays the main fortress of many organizations and causes against the widespread of counterfeiting medicines has highlighted the issue by decreeing different kinds of trump cards and bylaws. In the passing of time, while the panic withers away, fraudsters have also strengthened their strategies. They got fiercer, not even considering trademark issues and deceitfully duplicated brand after brand. Unlike the spreading market for clothes’ brands, counterfeited labels bring trust down and cause reputation to plummet.

According to reviews archived by The Peterson Group, a non-profit organization campaigning against the proliferation of counterfeit medicines, in 2003, the biggest conflict faced by authorities regarding protection of intellectual property rights is the agreement of the World Trade Organization (WTO) and Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) who both offers vague rules and statements against trademark infringement in medicines being exchanged internationally. A 2003 agreement loosened the domestic market requirement, and allows developing countries to export to other countries where there is a national health problem as long as drugs exported are not part of a commercial or industrial policy. Drugs exported under such a regime may be packaged or colored differently in order to prevent them from prejudicing markets in the developed world.

Many critics stated that there should be a clear line for differentiating normal cases of trademark infringement to counterfeiting which penalties for offenders apply. It is for the trademark owner to initiate infringement proceedings. However, for a number of reasons, developed countries, including Germany, USA and UK are opposed to extending criminal sanctions for infringement.

Developing cities have also participated in the agreement between WTO and TRIPS but they are given longer time for proper implementation. Surprisingly though, they have faired better in the adaption of sanctions. Jakarta, Indonesia and Bangkok, Thailand are both emphasizing their complaints against intellectual property rights as they have local medicine manufacturers in their stead.

However, it is a different issue for less developed countries. It has been argued that TRIPS implementation is far detrimental to these countries’ development. The flexibilities may not be drafted because of the lack of legal and technical expertise. It is yet to be determined when the extension of the transition to TRIP method happens on January 2016.

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