Industry complains about generics


Source: Jornal do Commercio (PE), 10/04/2008

Generic drugs cost on average 35% less than branded drugs. Since it was regulated by Law 9.787 / 1999, the sale of generics has benefited the consumer, who now has an option at the time of purchase. However, the industry complains about unfair competition and the matter ended up in the National Health Surveillance Agency (Anvisa). The reason is the “clones” of medicines: generic and similar ones that copy the brands of the reference products and, indirectly, impose losses on companies that invested in research and development of brands and packaging.


It is difficult to measure the impact of packaging copies. But some figures illustrate how much the industry invests. From the R $ 1,72 billion expected for this year by the Brazilian Federation of the Pharmaceutical Industry (Febrafarma), the sector will contribute R $ 505 million in research and development and R $ 225 million in the launch of new products. Another fact that can help to glimpse what is happening in this market is the Informality study in the pharmaceutical sector: barrier to the growth of the Brazilian economy and risk to public health, released in May last year by the Brazilian Institute of Ethics in Competition (Etco). According to the survey, 23% of all taxes owed by the pharmaceutical sector are withheld, equivalent to R $ 2,3 billion per year.


The Brazilian Association of the Prescription Free Medicines Industry (Abimip) will present to Anvisa, next week, a proposal to prohibit the copying of packaging. In the assessment of Abimip's secretary general, Sálvio di Girólamo, the practice constitutes piracy. “There are already many fights in court. The companies say the savings in packaging and branding benefit the consumer. I've never seen a pirated product cost more, ”complains Sálvio.


Even before receiving the entity's proposal, Anvisa hinted that it does not consider the matter a regulatory problem, but a market problem. “The Agency may even think that it is not within its competence, but its main function is precisely to regulate the drug market. And, if you agreed to receive the proposal, we will wait for its analysis ”, continues the secretary-general. Sálvio says that it is difficult to measure the losses caused by the clones. ”If these companies practice something as visible as a packaging copy, prohibited by law, imagine what they do in other less noticeable areas”, says Girólamo.


Mônica Lustosa, a lawyer at Siqueira Castro Advogados and a specialist in intellectual property, believes that packaging and similar brands can mislead consumers. “In the case of medicines, there is a factor that makes this distinction difficult. The drug brands always use the chemical substance as part of the product name ”, evaluates Mônica.