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Access to Medicines


The need for global, equitable access to medicines is urgent. Too many people in developing countries are dying because medicines are not available at prices they can afford and health agencies have limited budgets to pay high prices for brand-name drugs. People die because they cannot afford to buy life.

Our work focuses on laws and policies that affect access to antiretroviral and other medicines, such as patents rules in international trade agreements and domestic legislation regulating the price of medicines.

This includes ensuring access to

  • comprehensive care, treatment and support for people living with HIV;
  • diagnostic tools (such as HIV testing kits), antiretroviral treatment, and other medicines; and
  • other kinds of health and support services, including treatment for people with immune systems weakened by HIV, sexual and reproductive health services, addiction treatment, and mental health services.
Learn more:

Fears Confirmed: Access to medicines and the Trans-Pacific Partnership

November 13, 2015 Last week, the text of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) Agreement was finally made public. Running to more than 6000 pages, it raises a host of grave concerns about its impact on everything from environmental protection to labour and other human rights, from internet privacy to food safety… and much more, including access […]

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Letter to Prime Minister and Ministers of International Trade, Health, and International Development re: Access to medicines and the Trans‐Pacific Partnership

“We write to you as Canadian civil society organizations concerned about access to medicines, in Canada and globally. A number of us are members of the Global Treatment Access Group (GTAG), a working group bringing together various Canadian organizations advocating for greater access to medicines, and other aspects of the human right to the highest attainable standard of health, in […]

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Election 2015: Bill C-398 and access to medicines — Canada’s major federal parties respond

This is the second in a series of blog posts being published by the Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network ahead of Election Day on October 19, 2015. Recently, we sent a questionnaire to the five major federal parties, asking their position on key questions related to HIV and human rights. Four out of five parties responded. […]

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Election 2015: Keeping HIV and Human Rights on the Agenda

On October 19, 2015, Canada’s voters have an opportunity to decide what kind of government they want — one that has regard for evidence and upholds health and human rights for all, or one that perpetuates outmoded and ill-informed policies proven to produce devastating consequences for both individual and public health. Navigate this page: Legal […]

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Time for transparency on the TPP

For the last five years, Canada and 11 other countries have been secretly negotiating the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), often described as “NAFTA on steroids.” Among many other concerns, health groups have been sounding the alarm that access to affordable medicines for millions of people in the negotiating countries could be one of those things traded […]

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Letter to TPP Ministers and Heads of Delegation re: transparency

“Ever since talks over the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement (TPP) began over five years ago, there have been broad public calls on leaders to make negotiations more transparent and open to the public. In statements, in letters, and in face-to-face meetings with trade representatives, we have urged the adoption of concrete practices that would better enable the kind of open […]

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Letter to Kirsten Hillman, Chief Negotiator, Trans‐Pacific Partnership re: Request for access and transparency in the TPP negotiating round in Ottawa

“It is our understanding that Canada will host the next negotiating round of the Trans‐Pacific Partnership, including Chief Negotiators meetings, in Ottawa in early July…. [I]t is critical that Canada ensures and facilitates opportunities for civil society stakeholder engagement with negotiators during the Ottawa round of negotiations….”

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Open letter from civil society to Executive Director of the Global Fund: Abandon the “blue-ribbon Task Force to develop a global framework on tiered-pricing”

“We, the undersigned organizations and activists from the global South and North, are writing to urge the Global Fund to abandon its attempt to launch a “blue-ribbon Task Force” that will focus primarily on developing a global multi-tiered pricing framework for middle-income countries (MICs), which we believe would permanently undermine access to more affordable medicines, […]

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Joint letter to UNAIDS Executive Director Michel Sidibé re: Russia and the Fourth Conference on HIV/AIDS in Eastern Europe and Central Asia

“On behalf of advocates for universal access to HIV prevention, treatment, care and support in Eastern Europe and Central Asia (EECA), we write to express our concerns about the Fourth Conference on HIV/AIDS in Eastern Europe and Central Asia (EECAAC) which is being organized with great influence from its host, the government of the Russian […]

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Letter to UNAIDS Executive Director Michel Sidibé re: convening High-Level Meeting to assess progress towards Universal Access

“[W]e would like … to ask UNAIDS to call on the United Nations General Assembly to convene a High Level Meeting before September 2015 to assess progress toward the achievement of the goals in the 2011 Political Declaration and to renew the commitments to achieve Universal Access to HIV prevention, treatment, care and support in […]

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Open letter to Prime Minister from NGOs: Canada must stand fast in Trans-Pacific Partnership trade negotiations to defend access to affordable medicines

“We are Canadian civil society organizations committed to the basic principle that access to medicines and to health care should be equitable, based on need and not on ability to pay, whether at home or around the world. Medicines should not be a luxury. We call on the Government of Canada to reject any proposals […]

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Judging the epidemic: A judicial handbook on HIV, human rights and the law

Judging the epidemic has been prepared as a resource to help judges, magistrates, arbitrators and other judicial officers throughout the world adjudicate cases involving HIV-related issues. This handbook may also be used by judicial trainers and ministries of justice to deliver educational programmes to judges and magistrates on legal issues related to HIV and human […]

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