Wed, 19 Apr 2000

Court asked to suspend Roche drug distribution

JAKARTA (JP): Drug distributor company PT Perusahaan Dagang Tempo has requested that the South Jakarta District Court order a temporary stop to the distribution of some products of drug company PT Roche Indonesia while a hearing of a dispute between both parties was in progress.

Roche's lawyer Todung Mulya Lubis said the request, if approved by the court, would result in the suspension of Roche's generic and over-the-counter drug production in Cimanggis, Bogor, West Java.

"This is a different way of demanding the company's shutdown," Lubis told reporters at a news conference.

Tempo further demanded that Roche be fined Rp 500 million (US$65,000) a day if it failed to comply with the provisional ruling.

Lubis said the court would hold the next hearing of the case next Thursday but he did not explain if the court would decide on Tempo's request that day.

Tempo filed a lawsuit against Roche at the South Jakarta District Court last October for annulling a contract appointing the former as a distributor of Roche's generic and over-the- counter drug products on the domestic market.

Generic and over-the-counter products are drugs that can be purchased without a doctor's prescription.

While the examination of the lawsuit was in progress, Tempo filed another lawsuit at the same court in March charging Roche with wrongfully transferring Tempo's distribution rights to its competitor.

Lubis described Tempo's second lawsuit as redundant, saying it dealt with the same issues as the first lawsuit.

Lubis said Roche's contract with Tempo allowed the former to annul the contract without reason in return for Tempo's distribution rights for an unlimited period.

Lubis further said the distribution was mostly conducted by Roche rather than Tempo.

"Roche had some 80 people working with Tempo for the distribution," he said.

Lubis further asserted that the court should have turned down the lawsuit right from the outset because Roche and Tempo clearly stipulated in their distribution agreement that any dispute arising between them which could not be settled amicably should be settled by arbitration in the English language and held in Jakarta under the Rules of Arbitration of the Indonesian National Board of Arbitration (BANI).

However, Roche's demand was rejected with the issuance of a provisional ruling, which stated that the district court was entitled to handle the case.

The court also sequestered Roche's assets, including its land and factory in Cimanggis, Bogor; its machines and all manufacturing equipment on the land and in the factory; as well as spare parts and half-finished goods there.

Lubis said the case set a bad precedent for foreign investors, as it showed how weak Indonesia's legal system was.

"Our President traveled around the world to lure investors, while our courts here throw existing foreign investors out," he said.

Meanwhile, Tempo's lawyer Amir Syamsudin said his client was only demanding that Roche honor the present court process and not transfer the disputed distribution rights to another party.

"Roche must maintain a status quo position on over-the-counter drug distribution while the case is still in process," he said.

He further questioned the sudden cancellation of Tempo's distribution agreement, after the company had distributed Roche's products for over 25 years. (bkm)