[Ip-health] "Battling AIDS: Approve drug bill now" (Toronto Star editorial, 20 March 2011)

Richard Elliott relliott at aidslaw.ca
Sun Mar 20 12:08:25 PDT 2011

March 20, 2011


Battling AIDS: Approve drug bill now

Canada's ability to provide vital drugs - at affordable rates - to African AIDS victims is up against the clock.

On Monday, the Senate is scheduled to debate legislation that would make it easier for our generic drug firms to sell cheap life-saving drugs to poor countries. With the increasing risk of Parliament ending in an election call, it has to move quickly. Senators should follow Parliament's will and speed C-393 through the final steps early this week. To dither is to risk this legislation dying on the order paper - again.

Liberals and other opposition senators support this humanitarian initiative, but Conservatives control the Senate. It is up to them to decide whether to expose Prime Minister Stephen Harper to the risk of going into an election having to explain why his senators rejected a bill that the Commons strongly approved to help suffering people.

If Bill C-393 dies, people will die unnecessarily. It's that simple.

According to the World Health Organization, 15 million people need antiretroviral medicines to keep HIV/AIDS at bay. Only 5 million now get them. This bill would help change those odds by giving manufacturers a simple way to supply drugs to developing countries at vastly cheaper rates.

In 2006, Harper's government assured the UN that Canada endorsed "universal access to treatment for all those who need it." It is time to live up to that promise. The Conservative-controlled Senate should quickly pass C-393 so we can offer the help so many require.

Richard Elliott
Executive Director | Directeur général
Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network | Réseau juridique canadien VIH/sida 
+1 416 595-1666 (ext./poste 229) | relliott_aidslaw
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