Today I questioned the Minister of Health on why the Ebola vaccine from Canada is being held-up

Yesterday, the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Health said in the House of Commons that “consent needs to be provided” in order to get life-saving medication to patients infected with Ebola in West Africa. While the Conservatives keep repeating that they’ve “donated” the vaccine, we know it hasn’t yet left the Microbiology Lab in Winnipeg. And today, the Parliamentary Secretary refused to answer questions about whose consent is holding-up the vaccine shipment. What kind of deal have they gotten us into, when the commercial interests of big pharma are preventing this life-saving vaccine from getting to the infected pandemic area?

Ms. Libby Davies (Vancouver East, NDP): Mr. Speaker, Canada has the most promising vaccine for Ebola in the world, but despite government promises two months ago, it is not getting to scientists and patients.

Yesterday, the parliamentary secretary said “consent needs to be provided”, but whose consent did she mean?

The World Health Organization is not the problem, we know that, so whose consent is she referring to, the pharmaceutical company the Conservatives gave the licensing rights to?

Ms. Eve Adams (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Health, CPC): Mr. Speaker, as I have been very clear in the chamber and on a number of panels with this critic, the vaccines have been donated to the World Health Organization. Canada owns these vaccines. We have 1,500 doses. We have donated up to 1,000 to the World Health Organization. It is up to the World Health Organization to deploy these vaccines as efficiently, ethically, and quickly as possible.

Ms. Libby Davies (Vancouver East, NDP): Mr. Speaker, the parliamentary secretary and the government have not been clear at all. They keep passing the buck to the WHO, which is not the problem. The American pharmaceutical company NewLink Genetics said it wants to “be in control” of clinical trials. Because of the deal the Conservatives signed with the company in 2010, now the lawyers are holding it up.

The situation is very dire and Canada’s vaccine could help now. Will the government tell NewLink Genetics to allow this vaccine to move or will it cancel the deal today so we can get this lifesaving vaccine to where it is needed?

Ms. Eve Adams (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Health, CPC): Mr. Speaker, the opposition is confusing issues. Let me very clear about this. Canada owns the doses. We own the intellectual property rights to these doses. We have fully and completely donated up to 1,000 of these doses to the World Health Organization. It is up to it to manage the logistics and to dispense them as quickly and as efficiently as possible.