Except for the first paragraph, which I wrote, this letter is available for you to cut and paste here at http://www.essentialmedicine.org/add-your-voice/camr/
Don’t worry about the October 23 deadline having passed. The bill is only at the committee stage.
Here’s my letter:
As a Canadian living with HIV for the last 20 years I have immediate concerns about problems with the roll-out of the H1N1 vaccine. However, as a beneficiary of the “cocktail” of HIV medicines since they were in the experimental stage, I also have serious concerns with the unacceptable delays in implementing Canada’s legislation designed to make such drugs available to impoverished countries which need them desperately. I am no more deserving of these life-extending medicines than the poorest person in the world.
On September 16th a shipment of drugs left the Toronto airport bound for Rwanda. It has taken years of persistence and determination for Apotex to send this second part of a shipment of drugs to dying Africans.
In 2004, Canada responded to the urgent need for lower-cost, life-saving medicines by passing Canada’s Access to Medicines Regime (CAMR) with all party support. Unfortunately, CAMR is too flawed to be effective. The delivery of one order to one country by one generic drug company in five years cannot be termed successful. We Canadians have a responsibility to do better. And we can.
Bill C-393, which is designed to simplify the process with a one-license proposal, offers a solution in streamlining CAMR. Knowledgeable experts have answered every question raised about the amendment. There is no cost and it adheres to WTO, TRIPS and health regulations.
This is a humanitarian rather than a trade issue. The picture of children dying of AIDS before their second birthday is heart wrenching. We cannot bear this reality, knowing that Canada could provide the medicines necessary to keep these children and their parents alive.
Apotex Canada has indicated its willingness to develop a medicine primarily for children, one dose, easy to swallow. But their commitment is based on making CAMR more workable.
It is only fair that ideas about reforming it should not simply be dismissed outright. Instead, the details of the reforms should be considered by a committee that can hear from experts. I ask you to acknowledge that in principle there is a problem with the current CAMR. Please call on the members of your party to support Bill C-393, and allow it to pass to committee for careful study.
You have the information regarding CAMR that you need. As leader of your party, you have the power to lead your members in the right direction. I urge you to hear the plea of Canadians joining the voices of those in developing nations who are holding their dying children. Please help. Support Bill C-393.
I look forward to your responses to this letter and your indication that you and your party will support this bill.