By Jawwad Rizvi
The World Health Organization (WHO) has allowed Pakistan to produce generic versions of hepatitis C oral drug, Daklinza, through local Pakistanis drug manufacturers which will be sold in Pakistan at a drastically low price.
The drug is likely to be introduced by mid-2016 depending upon the interest of the Drug Regularity Authority of Pakistan (DRAP) and the other federal authorities.
The UN-backed organization (the Medicines Patent Pool) has hit a deal with Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. to introduce the new hepatitis C drug for the 112 low-and middle income countries including Pakistan.
The Medicines Patent Pool has been offering global services for access to more affordable and adapted HIV/AIDS medicines in developing countries.
The drug which has above 90pc cure rate is effective for the treatment of HCV Genotype 3 infection (most aggressive form of the disease) which is prevalent in Pakistan.
The list price in the United States for Daklinza is $63,000 for a 12-week regimen, or about $750 per day at wholesale costs.
On the other hand, a single Sovaldi pill costs $1,000 in the US. The new drug, Daklinza, is on the WHO’s list of essential medicines.
Since both drugs were not in the reach of a majority of the patients, the deal has provided an opportunity by allowing the drug makers to go for generic production of Daklinza (daclatasvir).
The WHO has apprised the Pakistan government that a United Nations-backed panel has signed a deal with a global pharmaceutical company to permit the production of generic version of Daklinza.
Currently, Ferozsons Laboratories is marketing hepatitis C drug – Sovaldi in Pakistan in oral form.
Pakistan is the second country in the world which had been reporting highest rate of hepatitis C virus (HCV) prevalence after Egypt.
According to the estimates, around 10 percent of the total population of Pakistan is living with HCV, a chronic disease with high mortality ratio.
The WHO has shared detailed information about global deal with the DRAP and the secretary to Ministry of National Health Services, Regulations and Coordination couple of days ago.
Since 55 percent of people living with HCV in Pakistan carried Genotype 3 infection, this new drug would bring about a revolution due to its above 90 percent cure rate.
According to the WHO, Hepatitis C affects about 150 million people globally and kills around half a million each year. This drug is considerably expensive in the international market.
Now, the DRAP must declare bio-equivalence of the new hepatitis C generic medicines mandatory to ensure its 100 percent efficacy as Pakistan is one of the few countries all over the world which has highest ratio of antibiotic/antimicrobial resistance.