March 8, 2011
For Immediate Release
Canada's Access to Medicines Regime Must be FixedSupporting Bill C-393 will ensure life-saving generic drugs are available to those most in need
Toronto, ON - Apotex Inc, Canada's largest pharmaceutical company, today underscored the need for Members of Parliament to fix Canada's Access to Medicines Regime (CAMR) by passing Bill C-393 when it comes up for final vote tomorrow, March 9, 2011. This bill will ensure that CAMR is streamlined and strengthened, and that more affordable life-saving drugs can get to developing countries where thousands of people are dying daily from treatable illnesses.
The regime has been unsuccessful in attaining its original objectives as declared when the law creating it (the Jean Chrétien Pledge to Africa) was passed six years ago. Apotex is the only company to have attempted to work through this complex legislation and it took four long years to send the first shipment of medicines via this cumbersome process. Under the only license issued so far under CAMR, Apotex supplied a triple-combination AIDS drug, Apo-TriAvir, to Rwanda. The first part of the authorized amount was shipped in September 2008; the second and final shipment occurred in September 2009.
For Apotex, the time and costs involved were high and the company stated it was reluctant go through this process again if changes are not made to streamline CAMR. "We invested millions in the research and development of the product and legal costs in negotiating with the brand companies, and made no profits in this process. We did it because it was the right thing to do," stated Jack Kay, President of Apotex.
Apotex reaffirmed its support for Bill C-393 to amend CAMR, describing this bill as a good step forward. "If the federal government simplifies the process, then Apotex pledges to work with NGOs and Health Canada to research, develop and deliver a generic fixed-dose anti-retroviral medication for treating children with HIV," said Mr. Kay. "At this time, this drug is not made by any brand-name company, but it has the potential to save the lives of thousands of children. The World Health Organization has urged pharmaceutical companies to develop AIDS drugs for treating children as a priority and recognizes that less expensive generic drugs are needed by developing countries. It would be a sad day if C-393 did not pass"
Apotex, with close to 5,500 employees in Canada, is a top contributor to pharmaceutical research and development in Canada with planned expenditures of $2 billion over the next ten years. It produces 260 medicines which are exported to 115 countries.