Date: 14th November 2016
For Immediate Release
Unavailability of Affordable Hepatitis C Treatments Threatening Malaysian Lives
The World Health Organization (WHO) recently reported that over one million people in low- and middle-income countries have been treated with a revolutionary new cure for hepatitis C since its introduction two years ago.
Hepatitis C Virus (HCV) is highly infectious, and one of the leading causes of death around the world where at least 185 million people have been infected. Globally, the morbidity and mortality attributable to HCV infection continues to increase and approximately 700,000 people die each year from HCV-related complications which include cirrhosis and hepatocellular carcimoa (HCC).
Egypt alone has treated approximately 670, 000 people with new anti-virals that can cure HCV. Egypt has access to affordable anti-virals due to generic competition, enabling the Egyptian government to massively scale-up treatment.
Sofosbuvir, the backbone for HCV treatment which is exorbitantly priced at US$64,680 in the US, is available in Egypt for as low as US$150.
Cheaper quality generic Sofosbuvir is also available from countries such as India for about US$300 for a 12-week treatment course.
In Malaysia, a 2009 estimate states that at least half a million people are believed to have been infected with HCV. Due to the asymptomatic nature of the disease, most infected persons are unaware of their infection. Thus in reality, many more are likely to be infected.
Those diagnosed do not have access to affordable treatment. In 2015 a patient in a private hospital was charged RM385, 000 for a 24-week course.
This unreasonable price tag price tag by Gilead a multinational pharmaceutical company threatens the lives of the thousands of Malaysians that needs prompt access to affordable treatment.
We call on the Ministry of Health (MOH) to urgently take the necessary steps to ensure that Hepatitis C treatment is available at affordable prices for all in need.
Contact communication officer, Mr Khusyairi +6011-11473477