Cheaper Hepatitis C treatments in Malaysia?

hepatitis-CPUTRAJAYA: Cheaper Hepatitis C treatment may be possible if a collaboration between the government and an international body is successful.

The collaboration, between the Drugs for Neglected Diseases initiative (DNDi) and the Ministry-owned Clinical Research Malaysia (CRM) will see a new treatment for the disease being tested.

DNDi is an international not-for-profit research and development organisation which aims to deliver new treatments for neglected diseases.

Speaking after witnessing the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the two organisations, Health Minister Dr S Subramaniam voiced hope the collaboration would see the development of a more affordable treatment.

He explained that clinical trials will be carried out in Malaysia, involving some 500 patients to test the efficacy of a combination drug.

Subramaniam said the combination drug comprised an existing drug and a drug at a high level of development.

“There are drugs available which are effective for the treatment of Hepatitis C, but what is prohibiting its common usage was the massive cost.”

He said one of the latest drugs offered costs around USD40,000 (RM175,000) per patient and even then, this was a discounted price.

“This is a phenomenal amount seeing as how we have about half a million Hepatitis C patients in the country,” he said adding the government was searching for cheaper alternatives.

“We are happy that Malaysia has been chosen as the centre for these studies and we hope for a good outcome, from there we will take it to the next stage.”