Generic drugs often become available earlier in other countries and that means greater affordability. Generally, it’s a violation of a drug companies’ intellectual property rights when a company sells a generic in a country before the patent has expired. But what happens if you import a generic version of a drug, one that is lawfully-made and sold in a country where it is available but still on patent here, to fill a prescription? Are you committing an intellectual property violation?
According to a side agreement (of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade) among countries party to the World Trade Organization, called TRIPS (Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights), countries are not obligated to enforce IP laws for small importations of goods, which include pharmaceuticals.
You can find this in Part III, Enforcement of Intellectual Property Rights, Article 60:
De Minimis Imports
Members may exclude from the application of the above provisions small quantities of goods of a non-commercial nature contained in travelers’ personal luggage or sent in small consignments.
The “above provisions” refer to enforcement actions against intellectual property violations that involve goods crossing borders (in person, by plane, sea, through the mail, etc.). If you read closely, it includes the word “may.” That means, in theory, you could be accused of an IP violation, but I know of not a single instance of that happening to an individual importing a medicine for personal use.
What is clear is that there’s general agreement (no pun intended) that individuals should not be subject to IP enforcement actions for importing a product for personal use. When it comes to a life-saving medicine, this seems like common decency – even natural law.
Tagged with: article 60, intellectual property rights, patent, TRIPS, WTO
For the past decade, millions of Americans have safely purchased low-priced medications from Canadian and other non-U.S. online pharmacies. Now it appears that the White House Office of the Intellectual Property Rights seeks to shutdown such online pharmacies because they are not on a “White List” being created by the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy (NABP), an organization that misleadingly categorizes all non-U.S. online pharmacies that sell to Americans as “rogue.” Already, 25 million Americans do not take their medication due to cost. With less access to affordable medication, fewer Americans will take the medications they need.
We urge you to write to President Obama and your congressional representatives, and demand that actions are not taken against online pharmacies that safely provide affordable medication.
For more news on this advocacy initiative, click here.
Tagged with: Advocacy, Americans, Canada, Congress, drugs from canada, intellectual property rights, international pharmacies, NABP, pharmacies, President Ob, rogue, safe medicine, skip medication, United States, White House
The Obama administration is taking actions to address the illegal sale of counterfeit prescription drugs online. These efforts can benefit patients who could fall victim to rogue online pharmacies, but may also limit access to safe and affordable medication provided by non-U.S. international online pharmacies, many based in Canada. Millions of uninsured and under-insured Americans have purchased prescription drugs through, and relied on, such websites to afford medicine.
Last Monday, the White House Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordinator (IPEC), Victoria Espinel, stated that her office was in discussions with Google, Go Daddy, American Express, and Microsoft about cracking down on online pharmacies, and that an announcement about IPEC’s plans moving forward will be made within weeks. This statement seems to be a follow-up to a late-September meeting held by IPEC, which brought together domain registrars and registries to discuss voluntary protocols to combat the sale of non-controlled counterfeit medication online. As we reported, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) notably declined its invitation to attend this meeting, and at least one of its attendees, Go Daddy general counsel Christine Jones, as reported on Domain Incite, communicated that intellectual property protection was not discussed and voluntary protocols were not agreed to. Jones also shared her understanding that an “FDA solution” might be used to combat counterfeit drugs being sold online. Espinel’s statement last week suggests the same. (more…)
Tagged with: Alliance for Safe Online Pharmacies, American Express, drugs from canada, FDA, GoDaddy, Google, I-Save RX, ICANN, intellectual property rights, Interpol, IPEC, Joseph Biden, Katheleen Sebelius, Margaret Hamburg, Microsoft, Obama Administration, Online Pharmacies, Pfizer, public health, Public Library of Science One, Rahm Immanuel, rogue pharmacies, under-insured, uninsured, United States