ANNOUNCED AS TEMPORARYNo
Intellectual property protection
On 25 May 2009, MP Wasylycia-Leis of the New Democratic Party introduced Bill C-393 to the House of Commons. The Bill, which contains amendments to the Patent Act and the Food and Drugs Act, is intended to streamline the means by which generic medicines for the treatment of HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, malaria and other epidemics are sold to developing countries. In 2004, Canada introduced an Access to Medicines Régime that was intended to allow Canadianmanufacturers of generic essential medicines to sell their products to developing nations without violating intellectual property laws. Since the inception of the Régime, however, only Rwanda has qualified for purchases of the drugs and both developing nations and pharmaceutical producers have complained that excessive bureaucratic procedures have limited the scope of the project.
Bill C-393 would simplify the procedure by which least-developed countries are eligible for the program (they need only be identified as such by the United Nations or classified as being an eligible recipient of official development assistance by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development). It would also streamline the procedure by which Canadian producers of these medicines apply for a license to export them to developing nations and notify the holders of the patents. Should the Bill pass, it will require only one license for the export of these medicines to recognized nations, rather than one license for each country requesting the product.
Although Bill C-393 has been introduced to the House of Commons, Members of Parliament have yet to vote on the project. Minister of Industry Tony Clement has already voiced his disapproval of the Bill on the grounds that it would eliminate Health Canada review of the process and contravene the spirit of WTO regulations on the export of drugs to developing countries.
The New Democratic Party currently holds 36 seats in the House of Commons, out of a total of 308 seats. In December 2008, the New Democratic Party formed a coalition with the Liberal Party (77 seats) and the Bloc Québécois (48 seats) in order to topple the Conservative Party's minority government (143 seats). Parliament was prorogued until late January 2009, at which point the coalition agreement ceased to function. Opposition parties effectively control a majority of seats in Parliament, but do not have a formal understanding on the passage of Private Member's Bills introduced by opposition members.
The House of Commons is in recess until 14 September 2009. Speculation of a general election in fall 2009 is rife, but has not been confirmed by the Government. The last general election was held on 14 October 2008, before the worst of the global recession had become apparent and protectionist measures had been adopted by some of Canada's trading partners.
The Parliament reinstated the Bill on 26 March 2011 for the last time (40th Parliament, 3rd session) and it has never received the approval of the Parliament.
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