U.N. Special Envoy for HIV/AIDS in Africa Says Canadian Antiretroviral Drug Initiative Contains "Grave Defect"
February 18, 2004
U.N. Special Envoy for HIV/AIDS in Africa Stephen Lewis has said that the Canadian initiative to provide inexpensive antiretroviral drugs and other medicines to developing countries has a "grave defect" that could prevent generic drug companies from negotiating low prices with countries, Toronto's Globe and Mail reports (Chase, Globe and Mail, 2/14). The legislation, which was introduced in the House of Commons in November 2003, would allow the government to amend a World Health Organization list of essential medicines to include other drugs that are patented in Canada. Under the measure, about 50 countries would be eligible to receive generic drugs at a fraction of the prices charged in Canada. The bill also calls for special markings on and packaging for the generic drugs sold as part of the program in order to prevent them from being sold on the black market or reimported into Canada. In addition, the bill has a "right of first refusal" clause that would give a patent-holding drug maker 30 days to determine if it will fulfill contracts with the same terms negotiated by a generic drug maker (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 11/11/03).
Right of First Refusal "Compromises" Measure
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