An Act to amend the Patent Act (drugs for international humanitarian purposes)

This bill was last introduced in the 41st Parliament, 1st Session, which ended in September 2013.


Hélène Laverdière  NDP

Introduced as a private member’s bill. (These don’t often become law.)


Defeated, as of Nov. 28, 2012
(This bill did not become law.)


This is from the published bill. The Library of Parliament often publishes better independent summaries.

This enactment amends the Patent Act to make it easier to manufacture and export pharmaceutical products to address public health problems afflicting many developing and least-developed countries, especially those resulting from HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, malaria and other epidemics.


All sorts of information on this bill is available at LEGISinfo, an excellent resource from the Library of Parliament. You can also read the full text of the bill.


Nov. 28, 2012 Failed That the Bill be now read a second time and referred to the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development.

March 24th, 2014 / 4 p.m.
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Hélène Laverdière NDP Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

That's a very interesting point indeed. Thank you.

I'm particularly interested, because I proposed a private member's bill C-398, which would have reformed CAMR, Canada's Access to Medicines Regime, so as to be able to easily export medicines, in particular for TB. Do you think that reforming CAMR to have properly working access to a medicines regime would be useful?

Generic MedicinesPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

April 18th, 2013 / 10:05 a.m.
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Chris Alexander Conservative Ajax—Pickering, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am happy to present a petition on behalf of 38 Canadians from British Columbia calling upon the government to pass Bill C-398, without significant amendment, to facilitate the immediate flow of live-saving generic medicines to developing countries.

International Co-operationAdjournment Proceedings

April 16th, 2013 / 6:30 p.m.
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Mike Lake Conservative Edmonton—Mill Woods—Beaumont, AB

Mr. Speaker, the experts that I am talking about are the independent public servants who have testified time and again and have said that the bill does do the things that the hon. member says it does not do.

Bill C-398 would not have increased the export of Canadian-made generic drugs to the developing world. The bill ignored the fact that countries are accessing generic medicines from other low-cost producers like Brazil or India. The bill, if implemented, would have been inconsistent with Canada's international obligations and would have weakened Canada's intellectual property regime. That is what the independent experts said.

Our government will continue to focus on what works, and what has been proven to work is the government's comprehensive approach to helping those in the developing world. This includes maintaining Canada's access to medicines regime and providing financial support to global public health initiatives. We will continue to be a leading contributor to funds like the global fund, the Africa health systems initiative and the global drug facility.

These initiatives, and others like them, have achieved significant results. Globally more than eight million people living with HIV in low- and middle-income countries were receiving HIV antiretroviral therapy at the end of 2011. This represents a 25-fold increase from 2002. Progress has also been made for other diseases. Four times as many people are receiving treatments for TB than were in 2000.

We will not stop there. We will continue to lead by example in the global community to increase the availability of treatment to the world's most vulnerable.

International Co-operationAdjournment Proceedings

April 16th, 2013 / 6:25 p.m.
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Edmonton—Mill Woods—Beaumont Alberta


Mike Lake ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Industry

Mr. Speaker, had the hon. member been at the committee process when it studied a bill almost identical to this one, the independent public servants who testified before that committee refuted just about everything that the hon. member just said.

I am happy to respond to the comments made earlier by the hon. member for Laurier—Sainte-Marie regarding Bill C-398, An Act to amend the Patent Act (drugs for international humanitarian purposes).

The government is an active international partner and a world leader in the fight against HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria. The Government of Canada has made significant contributions to global mechanisms that have become the main instruments for low- and middle-income countries to procure medicine at lower costs.

I would like to remind everyone of one significant example. Canada is a top per capita contributor to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, contributing $540 million for 2011 to 2013. The Global Fund is an international financing mechanism that seeks to disburse funding for programs that reduce the impact of HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria in low- and middle-income countries.

The fund has become one of the most significant mechanisms in the fight against these diseases, supporting 4.2 million people with HIV/AIDS, treating 9.7 million people with tuberculosis, and distributing 310 million nets to prevent the spread of malaria. Other major contributions include $149.6 million to the Global Drug Facility of the Stop TB Partnership; $450 million to the Africa Health Systems Initiative; and $2.85 billion for maternal, newborn and child health, providing leadership through the Muskoka Initiative.

This government stands by our commitment to increasing access to medicines in the developing world. Our approach has yielded results like the ones I have mentioned. In contrast, the bill would have put us offside our international trade obligations and would not have resulted in greater exports to the developing world.

Canada is not a low-cost producer of generic drugs and cannot be expected to compete against low-cost emerging markets. It is estimated that India, for instance, supplies 80% of donor-funded antiretrovirals to developing countries. Furthermore, according to the World Health Organization list, over 98% of essential medicines are generic or are not patented in developing countries.

Bill C-398 would have eroded patent protection, reducing Canada's attractiveness for investment in innovative science that develops new medicines without increasing the supply of Canadian drugs to those in need.

That is why our government will continue to lead global initiatives to get much needed medicines to those in need and we will continue to do so using the most effective means necessary to actually save lives.

International Co-operationAdjournment Proceedings

April 16th, 2013 / 6:20 p.m.
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Hélène Laverdière NDP Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am here today to speak about Bill C-398, which would have reformed Canada's access to medicines regime in order to provide lower-cost medicines to thousands of people around the world with life-threatening illnesses and diseases such as HIV, malaria and tuberculosis.

I spent 18 months consulting all the concerned parties. I spoke with brand name drug manufacturers who were against the previous bill, but were in favour of this new bill being referred to committee. I met with a generic drug maker who has already used Canada's access to medicines regime. He explained to me why the current regime was not working. I also met with representatives of a large network of civil society organizations that supported the bill.

My colleague opposite did not make as much of an effort.

In fact, it was only in the days before the vote that he spoke to the brand name pharmaceuticals and he did so only after the same pharmaceuticals had written to us to say that they were ready to see Bill C-398 go to committee. Why? Because the people on the other side of the House did not really care about the bill. They had decided from the start that they were going to oppose it for partisan reasons. If it meant doing away with the truth, they did not care.

Let me give just a few examples.

The Conservatives argued that the bill would weaken the safeguards, ensuring that medicines would not be not diverted. This is simply false. All the safeguards adopted by Parliament when it first created CAMR unanimously in 2004 remain. None of them were changed.

They said that it would remove measures to ensure the quality of medicines being supplied. That is false again. There was absolutely no change to the requirement for Health Canada to review all drugs exported.

The Conservatives argued it would violate Canada's obligation under the World Trade Organization's treaty on intellectual property rights. Again, that is not true. Experts have testified that Bill C-398 would be fully compliant with WTO rules.

Then the Conservatives said that it could jeopardize negotiations for a free trade agreement with Europe. Oops, the E.U. has similar regulations.

In fact, all these so-called arguments are just excuses for the Conservatives to oppose the bill. That is why they came up with something else every time their arguments were refuted.

When they ran out of solid arguments, the Conservatives started talking about what the government has done to combat HIV/AIDS in Africa. I suspect that my colleague opposite will do the same in a few moments.

It is good to combat AIDS in Africa, but why could we not also adopt a measure at no cost to the taxpayer that would get the most out of the money allocated to humanitarian aid, save lives and even create jobs in Canada?

A few days before the vote, we actually had enough support for the bill to go to committee, including from Conservative MPs, but the government decided it would not let this happen. It put partisanship before a life-saving measure. It circulated lies about the bill. It pressured its MPs not to vote for what they believed was right and it ended up disappointing thousands of Canadians. Now the government can wear it.

International CooperationOral Questions

December 7th, 2012 / 11:45 a.m.
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Hélène Laverdière NDP Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, my Bill C-398 would have been a simple way to reform Canada's access to medicines regime and, yes, it could have saved lives.

Many experts and high-profile organizations, such as Doctors Without Borders and UNICEF, among others, are saying so.

Bill C-398 would have allowed us to do more at no cost to taxpayers.

Will the Conservatives admit that they made a mistake by voting against Bill C-398?

Will they finally work with us to save lives in Africa and elsewhere?

International Co-operationOral Questions

December 3rd, 2012 / 2:40 p.m.
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Hélène Laverdière NDP Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, Bill C-398 proposed simple changes to Canadian legislation, which could have saved thousands of lives at no cost to taxpayers. A number of Conservative members caved in to pressure from the Prime Minister's Office and refused to send the bill to be examined in committee, even though a similar bill was passed by the House in the last Parliament.

Why did they vote against streamlining the system, thereby refusing to save lives?

HIV-AIDSStatements By Members

December 3rd, 2012 / 2:10 p.m.
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Djaouida Sellah NDP Saint-Bruno—Saint-Hubert, QC

Mr. Speaker, December 1 was World AIDS Day. Even with prevention campaigns, more than 3,300 new cases are reported every year in Canada. In Quebec, an estimated 20,000 people are HIV positive, and 25% do not even know it. This is alarming and worrisome.

The global situation is even worse as 34 million people are infected. However, even though a recent study by the British Columbia Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS has shown that the best way to prevent the spread of AIDS is with the use of anti-HIV medications, the Conservatives have decided to prevent millions of people from having access to medications by defeating Bill C-398, which would have made medications available to everyone.

The campaign slogan of the Coalition des organismes communautaires québécois de lutte contre le sida states that we should never forget that we must exclude AIDS, not HIV positive people.

Access to MedicinesPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

November 30th, 2012 / 12:15 p.m.
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Kevin Lamoureux Liberal Winnipeg North, MB

Mr. Speaker, the Grandmothers Advocacy Network did a wonderful job in trying to ensure a sustainable flow of life-saving generic medicines to developing countries when it circulated petitions in regard to Bill C-398 even though it did not pass.

I introduce this petition to encourage the government to reflect on how it voted on Bill C-398. I submit this petition on behalf of residents of Manitoba.

HIV-AIDSStatements By Members

November 30th, 2012 / 11 a.m.
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Carolyn Bennett Liberal St. Paul's, ON

Mr. Speaker, tomorrow, on World AIDS Day, we reflect on the millions of people in Canada and around the world living with HIV-AIDS and those who have lost their lives in the three decades since this deadly disease was first diagnosed.

Today, more than 34 million men, women and children, including nearly 7,000 Canadians, continue to fight for their lives and fight the stigma.

While HIV-AIDS is far more treatable today that it once was, more than half of those combatting the disease are without access to life-saving antiretroviral drugs and therapy.

We are saddened by the Conservative defeat of Bill C-398 this week.

HIV-AIDS does not discriminate. It does not respect boundaries. The search for a cure starts with embracing research and innovation. The B.C. Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS, an innovative program of seek and treat, has seen a drop of 66% in new cases and lowered morbidity and mortality rates by 90%. The World Health Organization and UNAIDS hope this can be the answer to this world epidemic.

Business of the HouseOral Questions

November 29th, 2012 / 3 p.m.
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Nathan Cullen NDP Skeena—Bulkley Valley, BC

Mr. Speaker, I know you look forward to this with some expectations.

I am honoured to rise on behalf of the official opposition to ask the government what it has planned for the House for the rest of this week and for next week.

Mr. Speaker, yesterday, the government House leader appealed to you to reject the idea of allowing separate votes on separate questions facing this House. He did so on the grounds that the amendments would not be accepted by the government anyway. What is the point of us trying to fix bad Conservative bills? According to the Conservative government, reviewing and amending bills is some sort of annoyance that it wants to do away with entirely.

However, the truth is that the government has had a terrible record of getting its own legislation right. It is a bit like trying to unpack a Russian Matryoshka nesting doll. Let us review.

Bill C-4 was panned by so many critics that we lost count. It was left to die on the order paper by the Conservatives.

Bill C-10, the omnibus crime bill, was panned by the opposition. We tried to amend it but the Conservatives rejected the amendments. They then tried to make those very same changes later on, which you, Mr. Speaker, had to reject. The changes finally got made in the unelected and unaccountable Senate down the way.

Bill C-30, the Internet snooping bill, was so bad that, once explained by the Minister of Public Safety to Canadians, the Conservatives refused to even acknowledge that it was ever in existence. That was some bit of political spin, “You're either with us or you're with the other folks”.

Bill C-31 was panned by the opposition and others. The Conservatives had to amend it at the committee themselves.

Bill C-45, the monster budget bill and the second omnibus bill, actually includes many provisions to fix the first monster omnibus bill in the spring.

This would all be funny if it were not so serious and would have such an impact on the lives of Canadians.

Lastly, I want to say how disappointing it is that the government chose to be partisan instead of saving lives in the developing world, when it voted against Bill C-388 yesterday. This bill would have made it easier for Canada to send generic medications to those who need them most. What an unacceptable decision on the part of the Conservative government.

What does the undemocratic leaning Conservative government have in store for Canadians next?

HIV-AIDSStatements By Members

November 29th, 2012 / 2:10 p.m.
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Frank Valeriote Liberal Guelph, ON

Mr. Speaker, Saturday, December 1 is World AIDS Day, an annual commemoration of the more than 25 million people who have died since 1981, and a day to support the 33 million who still live with HIV today.

Through days of awareness such as this and year-long efforts, rates of infection are stabilizing. However, 7,100 people are still newly infected every day and 7,100 will become infected with HIV on World AIDS Day. It is not only vital that we continue to raise awareness, dispel myth and remove stigma, but it is essential that, in memory of those tens of millions dead, we continue to act and prevent further illness and death.

Yesterday we had such an opportunity when voting on Bill C-398. I am saddened that many in the House turned their backs on such an opportunity and the measure failed.

It is with a heavy heart that we commemorate World AIDS Day this year, but it is with hope that I look to the millions of Canadians who work every day to fight this terrible disease.

Patent ActPrivate Members' Business

November 28th, 2012 / 5:30 p.m.
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The Deputy Speaker NDP Joe Comartin

It being 5:30 p.m., the House will now proceed to the taking of the deferred recorded division on the motion at second reading stage of Bill C-398 under private members' business.

Call in the members.

The House resumed from November 21 consideration of the motion that Bill C-398, An Act to amend the Patent Act (drugs for international humanitarian purposes), be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Access to MedicinesPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

November 28th, 2012 / 3:20 p.m.
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Don Davies NDP Vancouver Kingsway, BC

Mr. Speaker, I have a petition from the Grandmothers Advocacy Network signed by hundreds of people in British Columbia who point out that millions of people die needlessly each year from treatable diseases, such as HIV-AIDS, TB and malaria, and that half the people who require treatment for these diseases in sub-Saharan Africa do not receive it.

The petitioners call on the House to support Bill C-398 that has the provisions necessary to make Canada's access to medicines regime workable at no cost to taxpayers. It is essentially the same bill passed previously by the House. They urge all parliamentarians, as I do, to support Bill C-398 when it comes before the House.