Daily Herald (Prince Albert)
Viewpoint, Saturday, February 14, 2004, p. 4
Generic drugs needed now

Dr. Robert C. Dickson
Daily Herald

Dear Editor,

The Herald;

Canadians have a huge opportunity to lead the world in a major life-saving
initiative. That, of course, is the generic drug issue.

The initial Bill C-56 died when parliament was prorogued in November. And
from what I've seen of the old bill, it was probably a good death as there
were several major flaws in it that would frustrate the process and
embarrass us internationally. Basically, there are four problem areas:

- Right of first refusal for the brand name drug companies must be removed
if we are to move ahead with this issue because it puts a major block in
the way of generic companies negotiating cost saving contracts with poor

- Canada does not, nor does the World Trade Organization, require a list of
the drugs. All drugs that are lifesaving or life prolonging in the
developing world, present or future, should be eligible.

- All poor countries should be included, not just those on the WTO list.

- Efficient and well-connected non-governmental organizations should be
allowed to participate, not just governments.

This bill should be enacted as quickly as possible so that we can do our
part for the 14,000 people who die worldwide every day of preventable
diseases. And, while we're at it, let's set a strong example to the rest of
the world by funding our share of the Global Fund for AIDS, tuberculosis
and malaria, that is at least tripling our contribution to $75 million US
per year. It's the least we can do for those who are dying so needlessly.

Dr. Robert C. Dickson,

Calgary, Alta.

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