Hepatitis C treatment to cost RM500 by year-end

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PUTRAJAYA: The cost of treatment for Hepatitis C in the country will soon be as low as RM500, making it more accessible to patients.

Health Minister Dr S Subramaniam said today the cabinet had approved the use of Rights of Government under Patent Act 1983 (Act 291) by exploiting the patented invention of the Sofosbuvir tablet 400mg, allowing the cost of treatment to be lowered.

“Hepatitis C has become a major public health concern in Malaysia, therefore it is crucial to increase access to treatment for the benefit of the nation,” he told reporters at the health ministry.

Currently, the cost of treatment for Hepatitis C is about RM50,000, making it less accessible to patients.

Subramaniam said the decision to initiate the Rights of Government was made after health ministry efforts to be included in the Medicine Patent Pool (MPP) and price negotiations with the patent holder were unsuccessful.

He said the procurement of the 400mg Sofosbuvir tablet would be in accordance with current government procurement procedures.

The implementation of the Rights of Government for the 400mg Sofosbuvir tablet is for use at government facilities only, namely at health ministry and armed forces hospitals.

Initially, it will only be offered at 12 health ministry hospitals, likely at the end of the year.

“The selection criteria for patients who will receive the treatment will follow clinical guidelines set by the clinical specialist,” Subramaniam added.

There are about 500,000 patients in Malaysia infected with Hepatitis C. It is estimated that 2,000 new cases are reported every year.

The last time Malaysia instigated the Rights of Government was in 2003 for anti-retroviral drugs (treatment for HIV infection), he said.

He expressed hope that the implementation of the Rights of Government would enable more Hepatitis C patients to receive treatment and reduce the cost of treating complications arising from the disease.

“The decision was made in view of the best interests of the patients and to improve Hepatitis C treatment access in order to protect the public’s health,” he said.