Unpacking the senate of Canada debate on Bill S-232 – an act to amend the patent act: inconsistencies and implications for global public health

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In 2003, the Canadian government committed to implementing the WTO’s August 30th Decision by creating Canada’s Access to Medicines Regime (CAMR). CAMR allows for on-patent production of generic low-cost medicines for export to poor countries. However, CAMR has been used only once and proved to be ineffective. As a result, two reform Bills (S-232 and C-393) were introduced in the Parliament of Canada. On March 9, 2011, Members of Parliament voted to pass Bill C-393. The Bill—now before the Conservative-controlled Senate—faces fierce opposition. This paper examines the Senate of Canada debates on Bill S-232 using a content analysis approach. The dominant ideology in the debates appeared not to be a moral, humanitarian perspective primarily concerned with human health, but rather a neo-liberal set of assumptions oriented toward maintaining the health of markets. It appears that opposition to reform CAMR is shaped by contradictory arguments informed by neo-liberal principles.
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