Licence for generic Hepatitis C meds true ‘game changer’, says group

Malay Mail

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More than 400,000 Malaysians between the ages 15 and 60 years are currently estimated to be living with Hepatitis C. — AFP picKUALA LUMPUR, Sep 4 — Hundreds of thousands of Hepatitis C patients here can expect affordable treatments soon after Malaysia secured licensing rights to produce generic medication for the disease, said a think-tank today.

Lauding the announcement by US pharmaceutical company Gilead Science that Malaysia was among four countries granted the rights, Galen Centre for Health and Social Policy called this a “game changer” for Hepatitis C treatments here.

“With HCV treatment currently costing as much as US$30,000 per person, this granting of a Sofosbuvir voluntary licence by Gilead Sciences will mean that it will be possible for lower-cost generic versions of this life saving drug to be made available in Malaysia.

“It will allow for the drug to be used in combination with others. Most importantly, it will be possible for thousands of lives to be treated and cured of this disease,” Galen Centre chief executive Azrul Mohd Khalib said in a statement.

He said this development also meant the Health Ministry would be in a better position to ensure wider and more affordable treatments for Malaysians with Hepatitis C.

“More than 400,000 Malaysians between the ages 15 and 60 years are currently estimated to be living with Hepatitis C, it is imperative to take a viable and realistic approach to ensure that coverage and access to treatment is made as broad and encompassing as possible,” he added.

Previously, the Health Ministry said that it was working with a pharmaceutical company from Egypt to produce a Hepatitis C cure at a reasonable price.

Malaysia was previously not included in the generic licensing agreement due to its status as a middle-income country, and this made Hepatitis C treatment prohibitively expensive for the Malaysians suffering from it.

The ministry also mooted importing the Hepatitis C medicines to make them more affordable.

It was previously reported that a full course Hepatitis C treatment for Malaysians could cost as much as RM300,000 per patient.