Flawed Drug Bill
Wednesday, February 4, 2004 - Page A18

Victoria -- The Throne Speech reaffirmed Canada's plan to enact landmark
legislation allowing low-cost generic medicines for HIV/AIDS and other
diseases that kill at least six million people yearly in poor countries
(Martin Expands On Throne Speech -- on-line edition, Feb. 3). While this
might appear positive, the reality is less certain. The proposed
generic-drug legislation, Bill C-56, is seriously flawed.

To take one example, it gives brand-name drug companies the right to scoop
contracts negotiated by generic drug makers. The brand-name companies would
be given a right of first refusal on any contracts negotiated with poor
countries by generic manufacturers. This removes the incentive for generic
companies to negotiate deals, as their efforts would likely end up
benefiting a brand-name competitor. This effectively undermines the main
objective of the bill -- to allow and encourage cheaper drugs to combat
deadly diseases in poor countries.

Blaise Salmon

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