LAHORE: A research-based US biopharmaceutical company producing the hepatitis C drug in oral form has authorised a Pakistani company to manufacture the same medicine in order to lower its price.
Gilead Sciences recently signed an agreement with Ferozsons Laboratories Ltd for the production of hepatitis C drug, sofosbuvir, to help meet its growing demand in the country.
Pakistan is second after Egypt where prevalence of hepatitis C is alarmingly high.
For the purpose, the generic drug company might set its own price, which was expected to be considerably lower than the brand product, and receive a complete technology transfer of the Gilead manufacturing process, enabling it to scale up production, an official told Dawn.
The step has been taken to ensure provision of the drug to an increased number of patients since a majority had limited access to it because of its non-availability on a mass scale.
Earlier, the Gilead had granted the rights to Ferozsons Laboratories to import and market this drug in Pakistan.
The Drug Regulatory Authority Pakistan had registered the drug and approved its price at Rs1,940 per tablet (a pack of 28 tablets for Rs55,000).
Later, the company slashed the price to Rs32,300 per pack but it is still not in the reach of poor patients.
According to medical experts, over 280,000 people fall victim to hepatitis C virus (HCV) in Pakistan every year.
Gregg Alton, executive vice president, Corporate and Medical Affairs at US-based Gilead Sciences, in a letter to the Ministry of National Health Services, Regulation and Coordination, Islamabad, offered his company’s commitment to address the public health needs in the country.
He informed the ministry that since last year Gilead had signed licensing agreements with 14 manufacturing partners, granting them rights to develop and distribute low-cost generic.
“Gilead has signed a new licensing agreement with a Pakistani pharmaceutical firm in an effort to scale up availability of generic versions of life-saving treatments in Pakistan,” Mr Alton said.
Published in Dawn, October 6th , 2015