231304 Canada's Access to Medicines Regime: Social Justice Attempted & Subsequent Failure?

Tuesday, November 9, 2010 : 8:30 AM - 8:48 AM

Jillian Kohler, PhD , Faculty of Pharmacy, University of Toronto, Toronto, ON, Canada
Joel Lexchin, MD , York University, School of Health Policy and Management, Toronto, ON, Canada
Victoria Kuek, LLM , Faculty of Pharmacy, University of Toronto, Toronto, ON, Canada
James Orbinski, MD, MA , ---, St. Michael's Hospital, Toronto, ON, Canada
There is often a gap between promises made politically, and the will to implement these promises meaningfully. One example is Canada's Access to Medicines Regime (CAMR). CAMR was enacted following a World Trade Organization Decision that changed global intellectual property rules, allowing countries to issue compulsory licenses for the production and export of domestically-patented medicines to countries without pharmaceutical manufacturing capacity. However, in the three years since CAMR was implemented, this attempt to improve medicines access to the world's neediest appears instead to be largely a failure of Canadian humanitarian efforts. There has been only a single agreement between a Canadian generic company and a country wanting to import Canadian generics (Rwanda) because of the complexities in both the Canadian legislation and the WTO exemption. The Conservative government in Canada seems more interested in protecting the patent rights of the multi-national companies operating in Canada than in helping to ensure that developing countries are getting low cost medications. Canada is not alone in failing to export generic medicines. Norway, the Netherlands and the European Union have also taken the same route as Canada and have amended their legislation to allow the export of medicines under compulsory licenses and these initiatives have all to date led to no exports. The failure to effectively utilize the WTO exemption reinforces the criticism that this exemption is overly burdensome and that other ways need to be found to get around the restrictions on the exports of generic medicines.

Learning Areas:
Advocacy for health and health education
Provision of health care to the public
Public health administration or related administration
Public health or related organizational policy, standards, or other guidelines
Public health or related public policy
Systems thinking models (conceptual and theoretical models), applications related to public health

Learning Objectives:
Describe Canada's Assess to Medicines Regime (CAMR) and its original intentions. Evaluate the impact of CAMR as compared with its intentions.

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I conducted the research along with a co-author
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.

Back to: 4043.0: Global Pharmaceutical issues