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Advocate for change: HIV/AIDS

Mengo Clinic, located in Kampala, Uganda supports People Living with HIV and children who are HIV+ with life-saving antiretroviral medicines. ARVs help boost a person's immune system so that they can fight off opportunistic infections and remain healthy. MCC supports Mengo Clinic through grants for staff support, and medicines for opportunistic infections as well as their Children's HIV+ and Adolescence HIV+ Clubs.

The Ottawa Office thanks constituents, friends, and supporters for voicing support for Bill C-398—An Act to amend the Patent Act (drugs for international humanitarian purposes).

Unfortunately, on November 28th, the bill was defeated in a vote of 148 to 141

With this bill, Canada was one step closer to fulfilling its promise to provide life-saving medicines for those in developing countries facing devastating, but treatable, diseases. Tabled on February 1, 2012 by NDP MP Hélène Laverdière, this private members bill aimed to improve Canada's ability to send affordable medicines overseas to people battling diseases such as HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria.

More specifically, this legislation aimed to improve Canada's Access to Medicines Regime (CAMR) through key reforms that would have ensured it became the effective mechanism it was originally intended to be. Thus far, CAMR has only been used one time in the past eight years to send one shipment of medicines to one country.

Seeking to remove CAMR's red tape, one of the bill's core amendments was the introduction of a "one-license solution" that would enable generic drug manufacturers to fill multiple orders of the same medicine to different countries (on an approved list) under one simple licence.

A previous version of this bill passed through the House of Commons with support from all parties during the last Parliament, but did not become law as it was unable to make it through the Senate before the federal election was called.

With Bill C-398, medical and legal experts, humanitarian activists, faith leaders, international development organizations, health activists, and even Canada's brand-name drug companies voiced support for the bill.

In the second reading vote, however, while all Opposition MPs supported the motion to send the bill to the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development for further study, with only seven Conservative Members voting in favour, the legislation died on November 28th in a vote of 148 to 141.