May 14, 2009
For Immediate Release
CAMR Federal Law Needs to be Fixed if Life-Saving Drugs for Children are to be Developed
Toronto, ON (May 14, 2009) - Apotex Inc, the largest Canadian-owned pharmaceutical company, reiterated the need to fix the Canada's Access to Medicines Regime (CAMR) if more affordable life-saving drugs are to get to developing countries where thousands of people are dying daily.
The regime has not been successful in attaining its original objectives as declared when the law creating it (the Jean Chrétien Pledge to Africa) was passed five years ago this month. The only company to have attempted to work through this complex legislation is Apotex and it took four years to achieve the first shipment of medicines. Under the only license issued so far under CAMR, Apotex has 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 is expected to occur in September 2009.
For Apotex, the time and costs involved were high and the company stated it was reluctant to do it again if changes are not made to streamline CAMR. "We invested millions in the research and development of the product, 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. "But in its current form it's not workable for us and, it appears, it doesn't work easily for developing countries."
Apotex declared its support for a bill currently before Parliament (Bill S-232 introduced by Senator Yoine Goldstein) to amend CAMR, describing it 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."
Apotex, with close to 5,000 employees in Canada, is a top contributor to pharmaceutical R&D in Canada with planned expenditures of $2 billion over the next ten years. It produces 260 medicines which are exported to 115 countries.