Pharmaniaga Donates RM9Mil For Hepatitis C Drug

The Drugs for Neglected Diseases initiative (DNDi) plans to register ravidasvir in Malaysia next year.

KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 26 – Pharmaniaga has contributed US$2.2 million (RM9.2 million) to a Swiss non-profit to help fund a new generic Hepatitis C virus (HCV) treatment in Malaysia.

The Malaysian pharmaceutical company’s donation will allow the registration of a new combination therapy using ravidasvir, which is being evaluated in combination with sofosbuvir in clinical trials in Malaysia co-sponsored by the Drugs for Neglected Diseases initiative (DNDi), a Switzerland-based drug research and development organisation, and the Malaysian Ministry of Health (MOH).

“This support from Pharmaniaga will support the delivery of a new direct-acting antiviral treatment for hepatitis C. It will increase treatment options and facilitate access to medicines and the fruits of innovation in countries where the price of HCV is still a barrier,” said Jean-Michel Piedagnel, Director of DNDi, Southeast Asia, according to a statement.

Pharmaniaga managing director Farshila Emran expressed optimism that Malaysia would succeed in eliminating Hepatitis C by 2030.

“We are also committed to finding the #missingmillions and providing cheaper alternative to treatment,” she said.

DNDi and its industrial partners are looking to register ravidasvir in Malaysia in 2020.

MOH, in collaboration with DNDi and Switzerland-based global health nonprofit Foundation for Innovative New Diagnostics (FIND), is actively decentralising hepatitis C treatment in Malaysia in order to provide treatment for more patients, according to the statement.

The MOH recently revealed that only 0.9 per cent of an estimated half a million Malaysians with Hepatitis C, or 4,500 people, have been treated with generics 20 months after the Malaysian government used a compulsory licence to obtain generics of the Hepatitis C drug, sofosbuvir, without Gilead’s consent, despite the drug maker offering a voluntary licence.

Deputy Health Minister Dr Lee Boon Chye previously said the compulsory licence allowed for a generic version of sofosbuvir priced at US$300 (RM1,225) for a 12-week course of treatment, down from US$11,000 (RM45,000).

DNDi said in April 2018 that a phase II/III trial for 301 people treated with the sofosbuvir/ ravidasvir combination treatment by Egyptian drug manufacturer Pharco Corp showed a 97 per cent cure rate.

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