Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Canadian to ship AIDS drugs to Rwanda for first, perhaps last time

From the Vancouver Sun:
Seven million pills will leave Toronto Wednesday bound for Rwanda, the first and perhaps the last shipment of generic, low-cost drugs to treat HIV-AIDS produced under Canada's Access to Medicine Regime (CAMR).

This is the first time any manufacturer in any country has used such a licensing framework to get essential medicine to people in the developing world.

But Apotex, the drug manufacturer that produced the pills, says the Canadian legislation - and the World Trade Organization regulations it's based on - has created such a complicated, costly system, the company won't be doing it again unless the regulations are changed.

"It took us more than four years just to get to this point," says Elie Betito, director of public affairs for Apotex, the generic-drug manufacturer supplying the pills. "It's a huge process, with huge costs involved.

"We will not be doing this again."

The process began when humanitarian organization Medecins Sans Frontieres asked Apotex to produce a generic version of several costly, brand-name antiretroviral medications - treatments easily accessible to patients in the developed world and proven to prolong the life of most AIDS patients for years. ...more

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