Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Indonesia's pharma IP problems

There are constant complaints about the prevalence of counterfeit medicines in Indonesia. Given the lack of effective overall enforcement in Indonesia, alternatives are being tried. The bureau of food and drugs, BPOM took part on a joint raid this week with the East Jakarta local government health office to raid 20 outlets and seized some 700 fake Viagra pills. The news reports say there was a tip off, but this usually means the IP holder's investigations identified the fakes. 

The interesting point is that these agencies don't really have a proper enforcement role, but the difficulty of working with the police makes finding such alternatives necessary. For example BPOM has powers of supervision over medicine sales but not arrest. While it can work on retail targets, finding the suppliers typically is much harder since they are found in the wholesaler markets and distribute to pharmacies more covertly to avoid detection. 

In late 2010 BPO announced a campaign to fight the circulation of counterfeit drugs. The deputy director indicated then that counterfeiters were selling copies of 20 of the more popular ones. The Indonesian Consumer Protection Foundation (YLKI) has estimated that lost revenue from counterfeit drugs amounts to Rp 2.5 trillion ($280 million) annually. 

Meanwhile the International Pharmaceutical Manufacturers' Group chairman complained at a press con fence this week at the restriction on foreign ownership in distribution. Indonesia requires that medicines be made locally, in order to be distributed locally by international pharma companies. At present ownership restrictions mean that unless a medicine is made locally, the distribution must be turned over to a local Indonesian distributor. This means turning over all the regulatory data for marketing approvals, which research based companies are reluctant to do.

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