Bill C-393 is coming up for its second hour of debate on Friday, and it sounds like it'll be a close vote – something which could kill the House's attempt at reforming CAMR, and be an indication of what would happen if the Senate bill S-232 makes it through the Upper Chamber. I spoke to its sponsor, NDP MP Judy Wasylycia-Leis, after Question Period today.
Q: Friday’s the next hour of debate – how are you preparing?
A: Leading up to the vote [next Wednesday], we’re trying everything we can to move more MPs over to the yes side. The debate on Friday will be the last chance to put on record the reasons for this bill, and we’ll put up a good speaker, and I’m sure the other parties will put up theirs. We’ll be tabling petitions leading up to that day, and leading up to the vote. The Grandmothers are continuing to call, the HIV/AIDS coalition is continuing to lobby. We don’t have the numbers yet, so we’re going to have to work this right to the last minute. I’m hoping that we can persuade more of the Liberals to move over to support the bill – that’s where our biggest problem is right now. Assuming of course that the Conservatives are going to be hard to budge – I haven’t given up on them totally, but my hope is with the Liberal Party, because in fact it was their original bill – this was the Chrétien legacy bill. This is a bill that doesn’t divert from the original intentions, it simply makes it easier to move drugs, so I’m hoping that somehow we can convince them to give it a try and at least get it to committee if they have some concerns, but it’s a formidable task right now, and I’m going to be using every second I’ve got to try to move people over.
Q: Have you been following what’s been happening in the Senate hearings – I’m thinking Professor Attaran’s comments in particular?
A: I think obviously we have more work to do then to educate Senators and Members of Parliament because we know that by moving to a one-licence solution, that generic drug manufacturers will be able to do much more than the one shipment that happened in the last five years. And they have said that this will give them the incentive they need to go the next mile, so I don’t think there’s much basis in that. No one is saying this is the be all and end all of covering the medication needs of developing nations, but it’s an important part of the puzzle. It’s an important piece of the action and I think it can complement any other suggestions people may have, and it’s why I’m trying to talk to some of the Liberals who think there needs to be a complete new approach around setting up a special fund through CIDA – I’m saying that’s important too, but we are now in the middle of a project that can fulfil our commitment to the world.
Q: Just to confirm – Apotex did promise to use this again if the one-licence solution went through?
A: That’s correct, and a number of other drug companies have too. I don’t have the whole list, but I have spoken to the Generic Drug Manufacturers Association and they’re very supportive, and they have also made the commitment that their member associations are prepared to take advantage of this legislation if we can deal with the obstacles that are there because of the requirements to go through the whole rigmarole every time you send one shipment of one drug to one country.