Hep C: Time bomb - only about 10% of carriers identified



Only about 1in 10 Malaysians who carry the Hepatitis C virus (HCV) has been diagnosed with the potentially fatal liver disease.


“The diagnosed cases are only the tip of the iceberg,” said Prof Dr Rosmawati Mohamed, hepatologist at University Malaya Medical Centre (UMMC). 

She said that worldwide, only about 15% of HCV cases are diagnosed, compared with 10% in Malaysia. 

The majority of cases go undiagnosed because of the asymptomatic nature of the disease, where symptoms do not show themselves, she said at the launch of the At the Edge of a Miracle: The Hepatitis C Epidemic in Malaysia report on Thursday.
  




The report by the Malaysian Aids Council (MAC) was launched in conjunction with World Hepatitis Day which falls on July 28 every year.  

It is estimated that 435,000 to 500,000 Malaysians carry the virus, a number derived by MAC’s modelling of data provided by the Ministry of Health.  

MAC honorary secretary Hisham Hussein said the prevalence of HCV among those who inject drugs was estimated at 50% to 67%. 

“Given the overlapping modes of transmission, HIV-HCV co-infection – particularly among those who inject drugs – is a significant public health concern,” he said.  

He said that a study in 2009 conducted among 552 drug users, who were not undergoing treatment, found that 65.4% of them had HCV.  Out of those, about 40% of them were also diagnosed with HIV.  

According to the World Health Organisation, a significant number of those chronically infected will also develop liver cancer.


/theSTAR 27-07-2017
 
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Hepatitis C: Generic licensing agreement to Malaysia



More Hepatitis C patients will soon be able to afford treatment..

Gilead Science, an American research-based biopharmaceutical company, announced its decision on August 24, 2017 to expand its HIV and Hepatitis C generic licensing agreement to Malaysia, Thailand, Ukraine and Belarus.

Hailing the development, local think-tank Galen Centre for Health and Social Policy said it would be a “game changer” in the fight against Hepatitis C in the country.

Its chief executive officer Azrul Mohd Khalib said more than 400,000 Malaysians between 15 and 60 years old are currently estimated to be living with Hepatitis C.





“With Hepatitis C treatment currently costing as much as US$30,000 (RM128,115) per person, this granting of a Sofosbuvir voluntary licence by Gilead Sciences will mean that it will be possible for lower-cost generic versions of this life-saving drug to be made available in Malaysia. It will allow for the drug to be used in combination with others. Most importantly, it will be possible for thousands of lives to be treated and cured of this disease,” he said.

Sofosbuvir is the innovator drug owned by Gilead Sciences.

Azrul also hoped that with access to the drug, the Health Ministry would be in a better position to work together with non-governmental organisations, patient groups and the pharmaceutical sector towards achieving its goal of ensuring that those in need of Hepatitis C treatment “can get it and afford to do so”.

Previously, The Star reported that it may cost up to RM300,000 for patients to have a full course of treatment. This was because Malaysia was not given special pricing for the drugs by pharmaceutical companies as it is considered as a middle-income nation.

In July, the Health Ministry acknowledged that the treatment for Hepatitis C is very expensive and it was collaborating with other partners to find an affordable cure. It was previously reported that the Health Ministry has teamed up with the Drugs for Neglected Diseases Institute to come up with an affordable cure.
/theSTAR 05-09-2017

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