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Μένη Μαλλιώρη » Εκδηλώσεις, Εξωτερικό, Ευρωβουλή, Ομιλίες - Χαιρετισμοί » The ECJ case law regarding internet sales and parallel trade, consequences for the industrial policy for pharmaceuticals

The ECJ case law regarding internet sales and parallel trade, consequences for the industrial policy for pharmaceuticals

Βρυξέλλες, 28/4/2004

Ημερίδα με θέμα «The ECJ case law regarding internet sales and parallel trade, consequences for the industrial policy for pharmaceuticals» (η υπόθεση του ευρωπαϊκού δικαστηρίου σε ότι αφορά τις πωλήσεις και το παράλληλο εμπόριο μέσω διαδικτύου, και οι επιπτώσεις της στην πολιτική για τη φαρμακοβιομηχανία)

Οργάνωση: Κangaroogroup

There is no doubt that the Information Technologies (IT) is a driving force for development, competitiveness and the creation of new jobs.

At the same time they offer citizens new potentials for a better quality of life, information, learning and entertainment.

Specifically in the Public Health sector, the IT contribute to the exploitation of the -often life saving- medical technology, to the facilitation of access to health services, to the best information of the public etc.

There is no doubt that the online drug supply may increase the accessibility to health, reduce the frauds against insurance agencies and keep under control the market prices.

According to governments, journalists and researchers, tens of millions of people obtain drugs through the Internet.

It is to be noted that the business of selling drugs to Americans over the Internet was worth at least $566 million in 2003, up from $251 million in 2002.

In the same context a 2003 Eurobarometer survey reveals that one quarter of the respondents use the Internet to obtain health-related information.

The European Court of Justice rule recently (11/12/2003) that parallel importation of medicinal products is a lawful form of trade within the Internal Market, although subject, of course, to the derogations regarding the protection of human health and life (as well as the ones regarding industrial and commercial property).

But let’s see what really happens.

The spreading of the internet and the e-commerce have favoured the outbreak of threats connected to the illegal and dangerous trafficking of human organs and products like drugs[1], cigarettes and narcotics.

In many cases, the relevant supplies are uncontrolled and dangerous. According to a private investigation, over 25 percent of the 1,400 web pages that sell and advertise low-priced medicines in the USA do not even ask for doctor’s prescription! Several of those websites are owned and operated by individuals that are now serving prison setences for various offenses.More disturbing is the fact that many of these sites do not even require a prescription from a legimate doctor.One can fill out an order form, include ones address and credit card number and two days later all the pills are delivered at ones doorstep.In some cases someone may have to answer a few simple questions but since nobody checks the accuracy of the answers anything that is written down is taken as truth.

The drugs are usually being sent  from developing countries such as Pakistan, India, Fiji islands or Brazil – without ensuring even the basic maintenance rules.

As a result, more and more people who buy drugs online become victims of the misuse of “popular” products (mainly anti-depressing, stimulating or drugs against obesity).Teenagers and college students are heavily engaged in buying and selling those prescription pills.

It’s only recently (18/10/2003) that two major USA institutions, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), decided to institute a common force group in order to decrease “the increasing rate of drug sales through the Internet”.

I’d like to point out that on March 2000 I questioned the European Commission with regard to the spread of cannabis and other narcotics through the Internet .

Unfortunately I was referred to the members-states and the subsidiarity.

Moreover in answer to a further question to the European Commission regarding the drug commerce through the Internet, the Commissioner responsible on this issue (Enkki Liikanen) admitted that the Commission has no idea whats ever… about  the total quantity of drugs suplied through electronic trafficking.

Furthermore,the Commissioner shifted the responsibility to the member-states as far as sensitization and information of consumers are concerned.

Some national institutions, like  EOF in Greece (National Organisation for Medicines of Greece) have warned customers against buying medicines through the web.

On December 2000, EOF expressed concerns about the quality of such medicines, and reminded that, under the Greek law, all pharmaceutical products must be licensed by EOF and sold by legally operating pharmacies or by public sector health institutions.

EOF announced a joint campaign with SDOE (a government organisation against economic crime) to «crackdown  the illegal supply of products over the internet».

It is more than obvious that the situation calls for an initiative of EU state-members as well as the EU itself in various levels, such as:

Inquiry, Documentation: The European Union should look into the problem of health services trade through the Internet, probably extending its “safer Internet action plan” scheme. For the effective control of each offence mentioned above, the accurate and reliable knowledge has to be provided. Due to the complexity of the issue, the legislative intervention should aim at the fight against the negative repercussions of modern technology without eliminating the possible benefits.

Information: Valid web sites should warn users of the risks involved in on line drug trafficking. Each web site should be identify, at least to the authority, a responsible person. The fight against the spams, through which suspicious Internet transactions are promoted, is a major issue since it’s estimated that soon 70 percent of the emails will be spams.

Control: The authorities often lack in organisation, know-how and inter-governmental co-operation in connection to crime. The specific nature of the prosecution, the appropriate police training, the full inter-governmental co-operation and the harmonisation in the definition of criminal behaviour are a challenge for the police forces in Europe and world-wide.

Legislative intervention: The EU  member states should co-operate to formulate a common legislative framework for these crimes. The EU constitutes the appropriate field for the elaboration of this legislation.Common Policy: All the above leads to the natural conclusion in favour of shaping and adopting a common policy against the electronic crime and especially against public health. This practice in the form of “action plans” could set specific goals, efficiency indicators that will be regularly evaluated by the European Institutions.


[1] According to a recent INCB report, governments should do more to crack down on the illicit trade in controlled drugs over the internet. The 2003 Annual Report also states that there is an increase in dealers using cyberspace to market narcotics and mind-altering drugs.

The Report also draws attention to a continued increase in cyber trafficking of pharmaceutical products containing internationally controlled substances. Internet pharmacies, which can operate from any part of the world, play a major role in the increasing illicit supply of pharmaceutical products containing narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances.

Illegally operating Internet pharmacies do not require a doctor’s prescription or just offer on-line or telephone consultations (http://www.epha.org/a/1098)

 

Ταξινομημένο σε: Εκδηλώσεις, Εξωτερικό, Ευρωβουλή, Ομιλίες - Χαιρετισμοί