As Canada expects to have enough antiviral drugs for everyone who needs them during an H1N1 pandemic, ethicists ask whether we should consider giving some away to the rest of the world.

The Canadian pandemic plan includes a national stockpile of antiviral drugs that provincial and territorial governments plan to increase to 55 million doses to handle the increased demand for the medication due to the outbreak of the H1N1 influenza virus.

“We’re actually in good shape on antivirals thanks to the foresight of the public health agency,” said Dr. Peter Singer, a bioethicist and director of the McLaughlin-Rothman Centre at the University of Toronto. “That is a good time to reflect on just how lucky we are in relationship to other countries around the world, particularly on the antiviral issue, and maybe a time to begin to reflect on what we can do to help.”


The Public Health Agency of Canada has not yet decided whether to donate any part of its antiviral stockpile to developing countries who are not as well prepared, and said it is waiting for the World Health Organization to officially ask for help.