The Ravida 200mg tablet is likely to be available at government hospitals and clinics to allow ready access to the the drug by hepatitis C patients, following the announcement that Malaysia had become the first country in the world to approve the use of the Ravidasvir medication.
Health director-general Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah said the government was also in the process of decentralising the production of the drug from tertiary to primary care.
“We are using the integrated access strategy where we build an ecosystem,” he said.
“This is a public health measure for the treatment and prevention of liver cirrhosis, liver cancer and liver failure.”
Speaking at a press conference today, he said it would cost US$300.
“But with competitive market prices, we want to reduce this to US$100,” he added. “It can be done. In the years to come, hopefully it will become cheaper.”
Noor Hisham said some 400,000 hepatitis C patients in the country are currently awaiting treatment through drugs that are cheaper than those already available on the market.
He voiced hope that the condition could be eliminated by 2030, in line with the World Health Organization’s goal.
Ravidasvir was created as an alternative direct action antivirus (DAA), given that the majority of currently available DAAs are relatively expensive.
Clinical trials to assess the level of efficacy, safety and pharmacokinetics were conducted in Malaysia and Thailand, sponsored by the health ministries of both countries.
Clinical tests showed a 97% efficacy rate for hepatitis C patients, who should take the drug in combination with other medicinal products for the treatment of the disease, namely Sofosbuvir.
Fauziyah Syed Mohthar, a spokesman for Pharmaniaga Bhd, said the company is collecting the necessary documents for registration before the drug can be made available at government hospitals.
“Pharmaniaga is gearing up to engage with experts from the private sector and hospitals, as well as selected GPs.
“We have the capacity to supply Ravidasvir in the short and medium term. We will continue working with stakeholders to focus on where we can place the medication at key hospitals.”