Canadian MP Keith Martin recently wrote an interesting Op-Ed for the Edmonton Journal on the challenges of providing access to medicines and health for the world’s poorest. He notes that lack of infrastructure, access to trained health workers, potable water and sanitation are the real barriers to access to medicines and care — not patents.
98.6 per cent of ‘essential medicines’ are generic or are not patented in developing countries, but for those living on $2 a day even generic drugs are too expensive (when available).
The debate around enabling the world’s poorest people to acquire life-saving medications is coming to a head. This week, Parliament votes on a bill that will modify Canada’s Access to Medications Regime (CAMR). If the bill becomes law, it will enable Canadian generic manufacturers to produce and sell medications that are currently under patent protection to developing countries. On the surface this makes sense. But are patents really the obstacle proponents of the bill claim to enabling the poor to access drugs for AIDS and other diseases?
Every year, the World Health Organization (WHO) convenes an independent panel of experts, chosen equally from developing and developed countries, to draw up a list of essential medicines. Currently, 319 drugs are on this list.
Of these, 98.6 per cent are generic or are not patented in developing countries. Thus, the life-saving medications the poor needs are already off patent. Generic manufacturers can make them today if they wish. Therefore, patents are not the problem. (more…)
Filed under: Commentary on news & events, Public health | Tagged: access to medicines, CAMR, Canada, global health, least-developed countries, patents, Public health, World Health Organization | Leave a Comment »