Malaysia wins award for access to affordable hepatitis C medicine


PETALING JAYA: Malaysia has received the Leadership Award in Intellectual Property and Access to Medicines for invoking the Sofosbuvir compulsory licence to gain access to hepatitis C medicine at an affordable price.

The Malaysian Government received the award at the Global Summit of Intellectual Property and Access to Medicines on Monday (Jan 15) in Morocco, said Health director-general Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah.

“A pride to the nation. Malaysia is a trailblazer when it comes to access to medicine for hepatitis C.

“Congratulations to Dr Salmah Bahri and team,” he said on his Facebook post on Wednesday night (Jan 17).

The award at the summit - organised by the International Treatment Preparedness Coalition (ITPC) - was a recognition for the first compulsory licence in the world, he retweeted Head of Drugs for Neglected Diseases initiative (DNDi) South East Asia Jean-Michel Piedagnel’s post. 

The summit is meant to bring together community representatives, governments, civil society, academics, experts and international agencies to look at the impact of international trade rules on public health.

In July, The Star carried a front page story highlighting the plight of about 400,000 Malaysians who were suffering from hepatitis C, with only a fraction can afford the medication which may cost up to RM300,000 for the full course of treatment.

Malaysia is not given special pricing for the drugs by pharmaceutical companies because it is considered a middle-income country.

The Health Ministry has teamed up with the Drugs for Neglected Diseases Institute to come up with an affordable cure.

The Cabinet later gave approval for Malaysia to issue government-use licence to enable the import of generic versions of the hepatitis C drug Sofosbuvir.

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