PUTRAJAYA: The cost of treatment for Hepatitis C in the country will soon be more reasonable to as low as RM500, to make it more accessible to the patients.
Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr S Subramaniam said yesterday the Cabinet had approved the use of Rights of Government under Patent Act 1983 (Act 291) by exploiting the patented invention of Sofosbuvir tablet 400mg, where the cost of treatment will be lower and more patients can be treated.
Currently, the cost of treatment for Hepatitis C is about RM50,000, making it less accessible to patients.
“Hepatitis C has become a major public health concern in Malaysia therefore it is crucial to increase access to its treatment for the benefit of the nation,” he told reporters at the Health Ministry here.
Dr Subramaniam said the decision to initiate the Rights of Government was made after the health ministry efforts to be included in the Medicine Patent Pool (MPP) and price negotiations with patent holder were unsuccessful.
He stressed that the procurement of the 400mg Sofosbuvir tablet would be in accordance with the current government procurement procedures.
The implementation of the Rights of Government for the 400mg Sofosbuvir tablet was for use in government facilities only namely at Health Ministry and Armed Forces hospitals.
Initially, it would only be offered at 12 Health Ministry hospitals expected to be at end of the year.
“The selection criteria of patients who will receive the treatment will follow the clinical guideline set by the clinical specialist,” he added.
There are about 500,000 patients in Malaysia infected with Hepatitis C and it was 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.
Dr Subramaniam hopes the implementation of the Rights of Government would enable more Hepatitis C patients to receive treatment and at the same time reduce the cost of treating complications arising from the Hepatitis C disease.
“The decision was made in view of the best interest of the patients and to improve Hepatitis C treatment access in order to protect the public’s health,” he added. – Bernama