Bill to speed flow of medication to developing nations passes Commons
OTTAWA — The House of Commons passed a bill Wednesday its supporters say will help get inexpensive and badly needed medication to underdeveloped countries. Two Liberal MPs voted against the NDP bill, and several others abstained. But with the help of some Conservative MPs, Bill C-393 passed with 172 votes for, and 111 against.
The bill would amend Canada's Access to Medicines Regime, which, despite being on the books for more than half a decade, has only been used by one company to send one HIV/AIDS shipment to another country. Critics say that paltry statistic is a testament to a system overwhelmed by red tape.
As it stands, the regime allows for a generic pharmaceutical company to apply for a permit to produce a patented medicine only after it has received an order. The key change in C-393 is a "one-licence agreement" which allows a generic pharmaceutical company to produce and distribute as much of a given drug as it pleases without having to re-apply and sift through piles of red tape each time a developing country expresses interest.
NDP MP Judy Wasylycia-Leis introduced Bill C-393, but it became an orphan last year when she left federal politics for an unsuccessful bid to become mayor of Winnipeg. Her colleague, Brian Masse, shepherded the bill through committee but parliamentary regulations wouldn't allow for him to officially sponsor the bill.
But in a rare demonstration of co-operation in the House of Commons, the parties offered unanimous support for NDP MP Paul Dewar to sponsor the bill
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