Statement - Dying for lack of medicines in developing countries



    
    39 organizations join in Statement on the 5th Anniversary of
    Canada's Access to Medicines Regime (CAMR)

    Egalement disponible en français
    

    OTTAWA and TORONTO, May 14 /CNW/ - We represent thousands of Canadians
from coast to coast to coast but more importantly, we write on behalf of the
10 people who will die from treatable disease in the two minutes it will take
to read this statement. Sadly, a large proportion of them are children.
    Exactly five years ago today, on May 14th, 2004, the legislation that
created Canada's Access to Medicines Regime (CAMR) passed with unanimous
support from all political parties in Parliament and received Royal Assent.
    The goal was, and is, worthy: get more affordable, generic medicines to
people in the developing world. Canada was the first country to respond to
changes in international trade laws which allowed compulsory licensing of
life-saving medicines.
    Unfortunately, that laudable initiative was, and is, seriously flawed.
    In five years, CAMR has been used only once, to supply a single order of
three-in-one AIDS medicine to Rwanda. This one instance required years of
effort by a generic pharmaceutical manufacturer and numerous civil society
organizations, plus the involvement of an international foundation.
    These medicines, delivered last September, represented a significant
breakthrough for the roughly 21,000 patients in Rwanda with HIV who will now
receive medicine that would otherwise have been unavailable. But they are only
a fraction of the response needed to scale up AIDS treatment in the developing
world.
    Furthermore, CAMR is unlikely to be used again to achieve the stated
humanitarian objective of increasing access to affordable treatment for people
with HIV or other diseases in poor countries. It is not the user-friendly
mechanism developing countries need to ensure a sustainable supply of
medicines.
    Fortunately, there is hope. New legislation currently before parliament
(Bill S-232) proposes streamlining CAMR by moving to a 'one-licence solution,'
instead of the current country-by-country, order-by-order process of
compulsory licensing. A 'one-licence solution' would address the key
bottleneck impeding use of CAMR by both developing countries and suppliers of
generic medicine.
    We know from discussions with concerned citizens and civil society
organizations across the country that Canadians are not willing to stand by
and see Canada fail to deliver on the promise made by Parliament five years
ago today.
    Time is of the essence: lives are being lost each day. CAMR is now five
years old. Many of the children that it could help save never made it to that
age. At the moment, half of all children with HIV in sub-Saharan Africa die
before the age of two because they don't have access to affordable,
practicable medicines suited for children. Canada could help address this
desperate public health and human rights tragedy by streamlining CAMR to make
it workable.
    On this anniversary date, we call upon all Parliamentarians to renew
their commitment to strengthen Canada's role in responding to the AIDS crisis
and other global health needs and to commit to fixing CAMR to deliver on the
promise Parliament made on behalf of all Canadians.
    We call on Canadian citizens to demand their representatives in
Parliament remove the current hurdles and inefficiencies in CAMR.
    For more information: www.aidslaw.ca/camr.

    
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    Action Canada for Population and Development
    Africa Change International
    African and Caribbean Council on HIV/AIDS in Ontario
    AIDS Committee of Guelph & Wellington County
    AIDS Community Care Montreal
    AIDS PEI
    Around the Corner Kingston Grandmothers
    Black Coalition for AIDS Prevention (Toronto)
    Bracelet of Hope Campaign (formerly Masai for Africa)
    British Columbia Persons With AIDS Society
    Burlington Ubuntu Grandwomen
    Canadian AIDS Treatment Information Exchange
    Canadian Association of Nurses in AIDS Care
    Canadian Crossroads International
    Canadian Federation of Medical Students
    Canadian Hemophilia Society
    Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network
    Canadian Physicians for Aid and Relief
    Canadian Treatment Action Council
    Canadian Working Group on HIV and Rehabilitation
    Central Alberta AIDS Network Society
    Coalition des organismes communautaires québécois de lutte contre le sida
    G-Moms of Port Perry, Grandmothers to Grandmothers Campaign
    Grandmothers to Grandmothers Campaign National Advocacy Committee
    HIV Edmonton
    Interagency Coalition on AIDS and Development
    Living Positive Resource Centre (Okanagan)
    McGill Global AIDS Coalition
    OHAfrica
    Ontario AIDS Network
    Oxfam Canada
    People's Health Movement Canada
    Positive Living North
    RESULTS Canada
    Streetworks (Edmonton)
    Toronto People With AIDS Foundation
    UNICEF Canada
    Universities Allied for Essential Medicines
    Women For African Grandmothers (Toronto)
    






For further information:

For further information: Gilles Marchildon, Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal
Network, (416) 595-1666 ext. 228, gmarchildon@aidslaw.ca

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CANADIAN HIV/AIDS LEGAL NETWORK

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