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Price of hepatitis drug reduced, NA told

Price of hepatitis drug reduced, NA told

ISLAMABAD: Minister of State for National Health Services Saira Afzal Tarar informed the National Assembly on Friday that the original brand of Sovaldi (Sofosbuvir) tablets for the treatment of hepatitis C was available at reduced rates.

The government had fixed the price of Rs5,868 for 28 tablets after modifying provisions of the Drugs Pricing Policy, 2015, after the approval of the prime minister and notified it on Feb 9 for generic version of the new drug, she said.

Replying to a question during the question-hour, she said nine local companies had been allowed to manufacture the tablets at affordable price, of which five had started marketing the medicine, while the remaining would soon follow suit.

The Sofosbuvir 400mg combination of antiviral treatment regime was prescribed to patients suffering from chronic hepatitis C, she said, adding that the therapy was approved by United States authorities in 2013. Ferozsons Laboratories has been appointed the distribution partner in Pakistan.

Keeping in view the urgency of the medicine, the Drug Regulatory Authority of Pakistan (Drap) and the ministry took an initiative to ensure its availability for needy patients as the Technical Advocacy Group on Viral Hepatitis had recommended that it should be made available on an urgent basis, she said.

Ms Tarar said permission to import the tablets for patients’ use only from Gilead Sciences of the US was given under the Drugs Import and Export Rules, 1976.

Previously, Drap granted no-objection certificate for the import of 25,232 packs of Sovaldi for Rs56,000 with its registration done on a priority basis.

Later, with the mutual efforts of the ministry, the regulatory authority and Ferozsons and through the Gilead Patient Access Programme for Pakistan, India and Egypt, the retail price of the drug had been reduced to Rs32,300 for 28 tablets, the minister said.

Published in Dawn, March 26th, 2016

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