A Technical Committee has been set up at the level of the Ministry of Commerce and Consumer Protection in July 2021 to look at the recommendations of the Competition Commission on the Pharmaceutical Sector and advise on the implementation of a regressive mark-up as advised by the World Health Organisation. This Committee will, at its next meeting, consider the proposals for regressive mark-up and make recommendations accordingly.
The Minister of Labour, Human Resource Development and Training, Minister of Commerce and Consumer Protection, Mr Soodesh Satkam Callichurn, made this statement, today, at the National Assembly, in reply to a Private Notice Question pertaining to the present fixed mark-up regime regarding the price of medicines.
This Technical Committee, highlighted Minister Callichurn, comprises of representatives of the Ministry of Commerce and Consumer Protection, the Ministry of Health and Wellness, the Pharmacy Board, the Mauritius Revenue Authority, and the Economic Development Board.
Speaking about authorising parallel imports of branded pharmaceutical products, the Minister pointed out that, in accordance with the Industrial Property Act 2019, branded products are intellectual property protected. Consequently, he observed, any person who wishes to import a branded product which is already protected will mandatorily need the express authorisation of the right holder.
In this respect, underscored Minister Callichurn, the Ministry of Commerce and Consumer Protection has received representations from several importers to the effect that, considering the prevailing legal provisions of the Industrial Property Act 2019, growth of commerce is detrimental while the rights and interests of consumers are not safeguarded since importers could have imported substitute products at much cheaper price.
He thus informed that a recommendation has already been made by his Ministry to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Regional Integration and International Trade to consider amending the Industrial Property Act 2019. This, he underlined, in view of replacing the national exhaustion regime by an international exhaustion regime so that importation of branded products may be made from different parts of the world without the express authorisation of the right holder.
As far as facilitating and encouraging the widespread use of generic medicines is concerned, the Minister remarked that this issue does not specifically fall under the mandate of the Ministry of Commerce and Consumer Protection. However, in view of the fact that it is undeniable that there are economic advantages to generic medicines, the Ministry of Health and Wellness will be encouraged to look into the matter urgently, he added.