KEI Statement on March 9 letter from Pascal Lamy, regarding Dutch confiscation of medicines in transit to developing countries

Today Pascal Lamy responded to a February 18, 2009 NGO letter that among other things requested he use his office to mediate the dispute regarding the European Union policy of seizing generic medicines that are in transit to developing countries. The original letter and Mr Lamy’s response are available here:

Statement of James Love, Director, Knowledge Ecology International (

KEI sees Lamy’s March 4 response as a positive statement on the topic.

Lamy begins by noting “the issue at stake is certainly very important and sensitive. As such, it deserves to be adequately addressed so that efforts to enhance access to medicines are supported and the creation of barriers to legitimate trade is avoided.” Lamy connects this issue to the Doha Declaration, which is quite important.

Lamy notes the current bilateral conversations between the EU and Brazil, and says “I sense that at this stage Article 5 of the DSU concerning disputes is not of relevance in this case. I nevertheless remain ready to help Members who require my assistance to find a solution to a disagreement with other members, if this disagreement were to persist.”

At this point, Lamy has given a signal to both exporting (India and China) and importing countries (so far we have information about Brazil, Colombia, Equator, Mexico and Peru) that they could fruitfully request the services of his office. NGO’s cannot themselves trigger an Article 5 intervention, but WTO Members can.

Given the stakes, and the fact that the European Union has asked that the ACTA provide for strict border enforcement of patent rights without exceptions for legitimate goods in transit, it is important that all possible efforts are undertaken to ensure that the European Union changes its current rules and policies on goods in transit.

For more information, contact Malini Aisola (, +1.202.332.2670) or Thiru Balasubramaniam (, +41.76.508.0997).


James Love

Director of Knowledge Ecology International, from the Washington, DC office.