First-ever compulsory licence issued under Canada's Access to Medicines Regime

    But MPs must simplify law to make it truly effective, says Legal Network

    TORONTO, Sept. 21 /CNW/ - The Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network welcomed
yesterday's announcement by the Commissioner of Patents that the first
compulsory licence has been issued under Canada's Access to Medicines Regime,
paving the way for an affordable AIDS drug to be manufactured in Canada and
exported to Rwanda.
    "This is big step forward in finally getting at least one affordable
medicine from Canada to a developing country in need," said Executive Director
Richard Elliott. "But it's also a wake-up call to MPs to make the Regime work
more quickly, efficiently and effectively. As it stands, the Regime is too
full of red tape, and it's slowing down what should be a rapid response to
desperate calls from developing countries for affordable medicines of all
    Canada's Access to Medicines Regime is meant to allow generic drug
companies in Canada to produce and export lower-cost versions of brand-name
drugs to developing countries. It was passed in May 2004, but has never
delivered on its promise - not a single pill has left Canada. The Legal
Network has repeatedly urged members of Parliament to streamline the Regime,
and has outlined the necessary measures to do so.
    The compulsory licence issued yesterday allows generic drug manufacturer
Apotex Inc. to produce Apo-Triavir, a single, fixed-dose combination drug that
helps treat people living with HIV/AIDS. Apo-Triavir combines three patented
brand-name drugs: zidovudine, lamivudine and nevirapine. Two months ago,
Rwanda notified the World Trade Organization (WTO) of its intention to import
260,000 packs of Apo-Triavir from Canada over the next two years.
    "It's taken over three years just to get this close to filling a single
order for a single drug. Even if this order goes through, there's clearly a
lot that's wrong with the Regime. We've told MPs how to fix it. Now we need
them to act," concluded Elliott.

    About the Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network
    The Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network ( promotes the human
rights of people living with and vulnerable to HIV/AIDS, in Canada and
internationally, through research, legal and policy analysis, education, and
community mobilization. The Legal Network is Canada's leading advocacy
organization working on the legal and human rights issues raised by HIV/AIDS.

    Disponible en français

For further information:

For further information: Leon Mar, Director of Communications,
Telephone: (416) 595-1666 ext. 228, E-mail:, Website:

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