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Drug For Hepatitis C Therapy At Much Affordable Price

Update Date: Apr 15, 2016 05:03 AM EDT

Drug for Hepatitis C therapy is expected to be made available to patients at an affordable price in the near future. The drug that would cost less than $300 is currently under generic trials and will be available for use in a year or two.

Hepatitis C is a disease caused by hepatitis C virus, contracted from one person to another through blood and bodily fluids. Hepatitis C infection can cause illness as mild as for few weeks to as severe as liver cirrhosis, cancer, and death. In most cases hepatitis C infection is symptomless while some people experience stomach pain, jaundice, nausea, fatigue and loss of appetite.

About 150 million people around the world are affected by hepatitis C and in the low-income countries, only people with severe illness get the required medical aid. The drugs specific for treating Hepatitis C are priced high by the US drugmakers Gilead, AbbVie and Merck and are not affordable to people from developing countries.

To resolve this issue, a combination of two Hepatitis C tablets ravidasvir and sofosbuvir are being made at an affordable price by the Drugs for Neglected Diseases initiative (DNDi), a not-for-profit organization in collaboration with the Egyptian drug-maker Pharco Pharmaceuticals, according to The Guardian.

The DNDi that made an announcement on the project at the international liver congress in Barcelona said that clinical trials on combination treatment are about to be held in Malaysia and Thailand, the countries with varied genetic characteristics. DNDi also noted that one such trial was conducted in Egypt among 300 participants which yielded 100 percent success rate.

"Because of the high prices of new hepatitis C medicines, it has been almost impossible for governments to provide access to treatment at the necessary scale," said YB Datuk Seri Dr. S Subramaniam, Malaysian health minister. "We hope data from these studies will support our efforts to introduce this combination as soon as possible and scale up to reach all patients in need," he added.

The drug is expected to be made available within 12 months in Egypt and 18- 24 months in other countries. The combination drug therapy for Hepatitis C by Pharco would cost around $300 that translates to $3.50 per day, which is far lesser than the drugs marketed by US pharmaceutical giants.

"The collaboration between DNDi and the Ministry will cover Phase II and III clinical trials on combination therapy ravidasvir and sofosbuvir for Hepatitis C patients in Malaysia," said Health director-general Datuk Dr. Noor Hisham Abdullah in a separate press statement, noted The Star Online. "The early part of the trials is to assess the new Hepatitis C treatment regimen," he added.

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