Canada amends generic drugs bill
April 21 2004 11:00 PM ET
Canadian lawmakers on Tuesday amended legislation that would allow generic-drug makers in the country to manufacture cheap versions of patented medications, including those to treat HIV disease, for sale to developing nations, Agence France-Presse reports. The previous version of the bill allowed brand-name pharmaceutical companies a first right to fill drug shipment deals originally negotiated by generic drug firms. The new amendments strip that provision from the legislation but also now places strict limits on the profits generic-drug firms can make on generic versions of patented medications. Other changes to the legislation include a listing of patented medications that are covered by the program, an expansion of the list of developing countries eligible for the generic medications, a provision banning developing nations from using generic drugs for commercial purposes, and clarifying purchasing rules so nongovernmental organizations can buy the drugs for disbursement in poor nations.
Some AIDS organizations and nongovernmental groups say the legislation still is unsatisfactory. They call for the removal of provisions in the bill that would allow brand-name pharmaceutical companies to sue generic-drug firms if they believed profit margins on generic medications are too high, and to eliminate the list of brand-name drugs that can be copied. "Given the track record of this industry, putting in provisions that encourage brand-name companies to litigate is not a wise move," Jim Keon, president of the Canadian Generic Pharmaceutical Association, told the Canadian Press. "It is unlikely a generic company would spend the time and money fighting brands in court."
The bill and its amendments are being considered by a House of Commons standing committee and could be ready for a reading before the full house by next week.