Bono Thanks Canadian Prime Minister for Introducing Legislation To Allow Manufacture, Export of AIDS Drugs
Irish rock star and AIDS advocate Bono in a letter dated Nov. 6 thanked Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chretien for introducing legislation that would amend the country's patent laws to allow drug makers to manufacture and export generic drugs -- including antiretroviral drugs -- to developing countries, Toronto's Globe and Mail reports (Laghi, Globe and Mail, 11/11). Chretien last week in the House of Commons introduced the legislation, which would allow the government to amend a World Health Organization list of essential medicines to include other drugs that are patented in Canada. Under the measure, about 50 countries would be eligible to receive generic drugs at a fraction of the prices charged in Canada. The bill also calls for special markings on and packaging for the generic drugs sold as part of the program in order to prevent them from being sold on the black market or reimported into Canada. In addition, the bill also has a "right of first refusal" clause that would give the patent-holding drug maker 30 days to determine if it will fill contracts with the same terms negotiated by a generic drug maker (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 11/7). Bono, who will speak this week at Canada's Liberal Leadership 2003 convention in Toronto, said, "This is so important and puts Canada way out ahead in pioneering solutions so desperately needed by the poorest and most vulnerable. From the perspective of a pesky Irish rockster, your leadership in Africa will be a legacy that lives on and flourishes way beyond your time in office." A spokesperson for Chretien said the letter was "rewarding" (Globe and Mail, 11/11). UNAIDS Executive Director Peter Piot yesterday also applauded the introduction of the legislation, saying, "It is vital that we increase global manufacturing capacity to provide accessible HIV drugs to the millions of people who need them" (UNAIDS release, 11/10).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.