New Democrats table "Medicines for All" bill


Bill C-398 would facilitate the delivery of affordable medicines to developing countries

OTTAWA – Today marks the first hour of debate at Second Reading of Private Members’ Bill C-398, An Act to Amend the Patent Act (drugs for international humanitarian purposes), which would ensure life-saving medicine gets to people who need them most in developing countries.

Bill C-398, sponsored by NDP MP Hélène Laverdière (Laurier—Ste-Marie), would modify legislation affecting Canada’s Access to Medicines Regime (CAMR). CAMR, adopted unanimously by Parliament in 2004, allows for the export of generic versions of pharmaceuticals to developing countries in order to tackle HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, malaria and other public health crises.

However in practice, CAMR has proved to be too mired in red tape for generic drug companies and developing countries to use. “We urgently need to reform CAMR,” said Laverdière. “This bill is one tool we can use to address the global AIDS crisis and other devastating public health crises in developing countries.”

Bill C-398 is a streamlined version of Bill C-393, which passed a vote in the House of Commons in 2011 only to die on the Order Paper in the Senate when the election was called. When the bill was last discussed in the House, a poll indicated that 80% of Canadians supported the initiative. CAMR reform is also supported by a coalition of NGOs, including medical, faith and development groups.

“This is a great opportunity for Parliamentarians to support life-saving legislation and to improve the lives of countless people”, added Laverdière.