Millions of individuals across the globe are at risk of death because of the lack of access to treatment for Hepatitis C. This viral disease is also known as the silent killer as it causes negligible symptoms during the early phase. Also, it is not an easy disease to diagnose and many people find out about it when it is too late.
Fortunately, a new drug for Hepatitis C treatment is now available for middle and low-income countries. The authorities in Malaysia registered a drug for hepatitis C which is not only safe and effective but also affordable. They recently approved the use of Ravidasvir with an already approved drug known as Sofosbuvir.
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Previously, the government of Malaysia formed a partnership with the developers of Ravidasvir, the Drugs for Neglected Diseases initiative (DNDi). It is a non-profit organization that researched the treatment of Hepatitis C and later developed this new drug.
Jean-Michel Piedagnel, the director of this organization said that they decided to partner with mid-range income countries and develop a cost-effective drug. Later, the organization started its clinical trials in Thailand and Malaysia to provide the market with affordable treatment for the silent killer.
Hepatitis C is a deadly virus that infects the blood and may even lead to liver cancer. According to the data by the World Health Organization (WHO), nearly 71 million individuals across the globe live with this virus. Since there is no vaccine available for this virus, it is difficult to control its spread. Also, those who suffer from its infection do not show major symptoms until the virus reaches the liver.
In the past years, doctors provided treatment of this disease using drugs with adverse side effects. Most of the time, these drugs worsened the condition of the patients and they felt even worse than before. However, the introduction of direct-acting antivirals (DAAs) revolutionized the treatment of Hepatitis C.
The DAAs include the previously approved sofosbuvir and ravidasvir. These drugs pose fewer negative effects and provide an effective treatment for the disease. Even though an effective drug, sofosbuvir was available for Hepatitis C, it was inaccessible to most low and middle-income countries. Hence, the high cost of this drug made the Hepatitis C treatment expensive for a huge population across the world.
The national head of hepatology of Malaysia, Dr. Muhammad Radzi Abu Hassan said that the number of treated Hepatitis C patients increased significantly in the country. It is because of the availability of affordable medicines in the local market. Dr. Hassan also mentioned that they were able to treat a significant number of patients despite the coronavirus pandemic.
According to the officials from DNDi, the organization aims to provide low-cost treatment in other low-income countries as well. The availability of affordable treatments in these countries can increase the testing for the Hepatitis C virus. It can also assist in the early diagnosis of the disease and lower the death rate due to the virus. In addition, it will limit the spread of this virus among communities.