PETALING JAYA: More Hepatitis C patients will soon be able to afford treatment, thanks to the decision by a US pharmaceutical company to expand its generic licensing agreement to Malaysia.
Gilead Science, an American research-based biopharmaceutical company, announced its decision on Aug 24 to expand its HIV and Hepatitis C generic licensing agreement to Malaysia, Thailand, Ukraine and Belarus.
Hailing the development, local think-tank Galen Centre for Health and Social Policy said it would be a “game changer” in the fight against Hepatitis C in the country.
Its chief executive officer Azrul Mohd Khalib said more than 400,000 Malaysians between 15 and 60 years old are currently estimated to be living with Hepatitis C.
“With Hepatitis C treatment currently costing as much as US$30,000 (RM128,115) 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,” he said.
Sofosbuvir is the innovator drug owned by Gilead Sciences.
Azrul also hoped that with access to the drug, the Health Ministry would be in a better position to work together with non-governmental organisations, patient groups and the pharmaceutical sector towards achieving its goal of ensuring that those in need of Hepatitis C treatment “can get it and afford to do so”.
Previously, The Star reported that it may cost up to RM300,000 for patients to have a full course of treatment.
This was because Malaysia was not given special pricing for the drugs by pharmaceutical companies as it is considered as a middle-income nation.
In July, the Health Ministry acknowledged that the treatment for Hepatitis C is very expensive and it was collaborating with other partners to find an affordable cure.