KUALA LUMPUR: Eighteen selected hospitals across the country have begun offering free Sofosbuvir-based direct-acting antiviral (DAA) therapy for treatment of Hepatitis C since early this month, according to Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr S. Subramaniam.
He said the first phase of the treatment was given to 2,000 chronic Hepatitis C patients out of the 23,000 patients registered to undergo the therapy.
Although the number was relatively small, he said the ministry was committed to increasing access to the therapy to more patients soon.
“The cost for the DAA therapy is also quite cheap, that is about RM1,000 per person compared to RM50,000 previously. In fact, it also has a cure rate of over 95%,” he told reporters after visiting Selayang Hospital here today.
Last September, Subramaniam announced that 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.
He said the decision to initiate the Rights of Government was made after the health ministry efforts to be included in the Medicine Patent Pool and price negotiations with patent holder were unsuccessful.
Meanwhile, Subramaniam said the World Health Organisation estimated that there were 400,000 Hepatitis C patients in Malaysia right now, with more people who were not even aware that they had been infected.
He said it was because of the huge number of cases that the government had to provide a large allocation for the treatment of the infectious disease.
“That is why we decided to initiate the Rights of Government. This is part of our cost-effective measures to reduce the cost without jeopardising the treatment,” he added. — Bernama