Final push for bill to help get generic drugs to developing countries | National Union of Public and General Employees

Final push for bill to help get generic drugs to developing countries

Bill to reform program intended to provide access to low cost generic drugs to developing countries faces opposition from big pharma lobbyists.

Ottawa (7 Mar. 2011) – Supporters of Bill C-393 reforming Canada’s Access to Medicines Regime (CAMR), introduced by the New Democratic Party (NDP) are gearing up for a vote in Parliament on Wednesday, March 9, 2011.

Paul Dewar, New Democratic Party Foreign Affairs critic, is urging Canadians to show their support to get low-cost drugs to developing countries (click here to support).

"The bill is facing a coordinated challenge from big pharma lobbyists. We have only a week to make sure the bill is passed by Parliament," says Dewar.

"I remember the day Canada told the world we would step up. Canada promised to get those life-saving drugs into the world’s poorest countries. Six long years later, due to fatal flaws in Canada’s Access to Medicines Regime (CAMR), there has been no improvement in accessibility of drugs for those who desperately need them."

CAMR and Bill C-393 

The CAMR was a 2004 initiative in Parliament that had the goal of providing affordable medicines to people in the developing world.  Unfortunately, there were some serious flaws in CAMR. To date, CAMR has delivered only one medicine to one country. Developing countries, generic companies and aid groups like Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders found the process too cumbersome and restrictive. 

According to Dewar "Bill C-393 replaces that process with a 'one-license solution' supported by every major player in the international health community. It is a simple idea that will save lives."

"And it won’t cost us an extra dollar. In fact, Bill C-393’s one-licence solution would make Canadian foreign aid more effective because limited resources could purchase more medicines – and would also free up scarce resources to invest in making health systems stronger."

Opposition to the bill

While enjoying widespread support among Canadians the bill's supporters are up against well-funded lobbying campaigns.

According to the Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network Bill C-393 "is our best hope for fixing CAMR, but it faces fierce opposition from the pharmaceutical industry and some MPs...This is an important humanitarian issue that transcends partisan political differences. All Members of Parliament and all parties should be united in making it work."

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The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is one of Canada's largest labour organizations with over 340,000 members. Our mission is to improve the lives of working families and to build a stronger Canada by ensuring our common wealth is used for the common good. NUPGE

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