PETALING JAYA: Government hospitals nationwide will be providing free Hepatitis C treatment to patients, says Datuk Seri Dr S. Subramaniam (pic).
"This is a long-awaited moment for patients," the Health Minister said during his visit to Hospital Selayang on Monday.
He said that 2,000 Hepatitis C patients will be treated this year after the drug sofosbuvir is made available to patients through compulsory licencing.
Dr Subramaniam said 20 Hepatitis C patients had benefited since the treatment was rolled out more than two weeks ago.
The access to the affordable medicine comes after the Government issued a compulsory licence (CL) to import or produce the generic versions of sofosbuvir – one of the drug combinations used for Hepatitis C treatment.
The combination of sofosbuvir and daclatasvir is now being made available in stages at all 18 government hospitals nationwide.
When treatment for Hepatitis C was first introduced in 2013, it cost RM300,000 for full treatment.
Dr Subramaniam said with the CL initiative, it now costs around RM1,000 and will be free for patients at Government hospitals, adding that there were about 23,000 Hepatitis C patients registered with the Ministry currently.
Malaysia is the first country in the world to invoke the CL for importing or producing the generic version of sofosbuvir.
The treatment is expected to benefit 400,000 patients.
A CL is an authorisation granted by the Government to import or produce generic versions of the original product without the permission of the patent holder.
Under the World Trade Organisation's Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) agreement, countries have the right to issue such licences.