Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of April 26, 2004
Ottawa's cheap drug plan draws criticism
By ART BABYCH
Canadian Catholic News
Critics of the federal government's plan to provide cheap drugs to African countries to combat HIV/AIDS and other life threatening illnesses say the initiative doesn't go far enough.
The government tabled amendments to Bill C-9 in the House of Commons April 20 aimed at helping poorer nations get drugs to fight HIV/AIDS and other killer diseases.
"As a result, not only will inexpensive drugs now be sent to these poor countries, but what is even more important is that Canada has taken the lead," Prime Minister Paul Martin told the Commons.
KAIROS: Canadian Ecumenical Justice Initiatives commended Ottawa for eliminating the clause but is worried that new proposals may lead to prolonged litigation "or even revocation of contracts."
Generic medicines sell for about one-fifth of the cost of their brand-name equivalents.
The ecumenical justice coalition also said other amendments are still needed. For example, a specific list of eligible medicines should be removed from the bill.
"WTO rules do not require any such list which limits the ability of developing countries to determine their own health care priorities," it said.
The Canadian Generic Pharmaceutical Association (CGPA) said changes are still needed before the bill will deliver the intended results.
"Progress has been made but other amendments open up a hornets' nest of potential court battles that will ultimately undermine the purpose of the legislation," said Jim Keon, president of the CGPA.
Keon said it is unlikely that a generic company would spend the time and money fighting the brands in court.
"Once the brand company initiated litigation, the generic firm would probably withdraw its request for a licence," he said.