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14 pharma companies allowed to manufacture hepatitis C oral drug

14 pharma companies allowed to manufacture hepatitis C oral drug

LAHORE: In what appears to be a major development, the Drug Registration Authority Pakistan (DRAP) has granted registration to 14 pharmaceutical companies to locally manufacture a hepatitis C oral drug.

The initiative was taken by the Drug Registration Board in its 253rd meeting held on Oct 5, a senior official, who was privy to the information, told Dawn.

He said Pakistan had the second highest prevalence rate of hepatitis C in the world where over 3,000 patients were dying daily due to the deadly disease, according to some studies.

Presently, he said, over 20 million Pakistanis were infected with Hepatitis-C virus (HCV). This population, said to be the second largest after Egypt, is taking Pakistan to the epidemic-like situation.

The long-awaited drug in tablets form had made its first entry in Pakistan some months back when the DRAP allowed to the company - Ferozsons Laboratories Ltd to import it from UK.

The registration of 14 pharmaceutical companies for the manufacturing the same drug in Pakistan would defiantly help eradicate hepatitis-C in the near future, some medical experts say.

The firms included M/s Everest Pharmaceuticals, M/s Global Pharma, M/s Weric, M/s Wilson, M/s Scotman, M/s Genom Pharma, M/s Genix, Sami, Max, Crystaline, M/s Mector, M/s Tas Pharmaceuticals, etc.

The DRAP had announced official price of the hepatitis C drug (Sovaldi) Rs55,000 per pack while granting rights to the Ferozsons Laboratories. Though, the company had later reduced the price to Rs33,000 per pack, it was still beyond reach of many patients.

One of the abovementioned firms (Everest Pharmaceuticals), however, offered its lowest price Rs11,000 per pack creating a healthy competition to bring those poor patients in the net who were unable to afford the drug.

To a question, the official said DRAP had rejected cases of three pharmaceutical companies for presenting forged documents while denied registration of the same drug to two more firms.

Published in Dawn, October 17th, 2015

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