Ministry redistributes Hepatitis C medicine stock

KUALA LUMPUR: The Health Ministry has redistributed limited Hepatitis C drug stocks to hospitals that need it to ensure the continuity of supply to all patients while waiting for the additional new stock to arrive.

Health director-general Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah said the current Sofosbuvir 400mg tablet stock was enough for patients while the Daclatasvir 60mg tablet stock was limited.

“The stock for the Daclatasvir is expected to arrive in the first week of November. There is enough stock for patients undergoing treatment,” he said in a statement yesterday.

The latest Hepatitis C treatment uses a combination of two direct acting antivirals (DAAs) Sofosbuvir 400mg and Daclatasvir 60mg tablets, he said.

“The ministry wants to assure (everyone) that it will continue to provide treatment to Hepatitis C patients and will be proactive in ensuring that these patients get the needed treatment in line with the World Health Organisation’s target of eliminating Hepatitis C by 2030,” he said.

Dr Noor Hisham was responding to a statement by Positive Malaysian Treatment Access and Advocacy Group which said that Hepatitis C drug was out of stock in government hospitals as of Oct 1.

The report was carried by The Star on Wednesday and yesterday.

In July last year, The Star carried a front page report about 400,000 Malaysians with Hepatitis C who could barely afford the full course of treatment, an expense that could cost up to RM300,000.

Malaysia is not given special prices for the newer drugs by the pharmaceutical company because it is considered a middle-income country.

The Cabinet then gave approval to issue a government-use licence to enable the import of generic versions of Sofosbuvir drug even though it is still being patented, as provided for under the rights, flexibilities and safeguards vested to World Trade Organisation members through the Trade-Related As­­pects of Intellectual Property agreement.

From March, the Health Ministry has been bringing in the generic version of Sofosbuvir, which is the backbone combination treatment for Hepatitis C after the previous government issued a compulsory licence to authorise a local import company to bring in the drug that has little or no side effects compared with previous medication.