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VN to import inexpensive US hepatitis drugs

Update: April, 28/2017 - 19:00
Viet Nam News

HÀ NỘI — Vietnamese citizens, especially the underprivileged, will have access to inexpensive drugs produced by US biopharmaceutical company Gilead Sciences to treat hepatitis C infections.

The cost of the drug will be just one per cent of the price of the company’s brand-name drugs sold in the US to treat the same infections.

The good news comes after the Vietnamese Ministry of Health and Gilead Sciences signed an agreement on Wednesday under which the US pharmaceutical company would provide enough of its brand-name drugs such as Sovaldi, Harvoni and Epclusa, to help Việt Nam fight the hepatitis C virus.

The company will also assist Vietnamese pharmaceutical enterprises in producing generic drugs to treat hepatitis C in the future.

Gilead Sciences plans to provide the health ministry with a list of foreign pharmaceutical companies it has authorised to supply materials for manufacturing drugs to treat hepatitis C.

Trương Quốc Cường, Deputy Minister of Health and Head of Drug Administration of Việt Nam, told Dân trí online newspaper that the ministry was considering allowing domestic enterprises to import materials to produce hepatitis C generic drugs soon.

The ministry would, without delay, issue a distribution licence under the fast-track licensing regime for hepatitis C drugs produced by Gilead Sciences, Cường said.

It would submit a request to the government to add these Gilead Sciences drugs to the list of drugs imported under the Government plan, he added.

Gilead Sciences is a research-based biopharmaceutical company that invents, develops and commercialises innovative medicines, especially in areas where medical needs are unmet. Its product portfolio and its pipeline of investigational drugs include medicines for treating HIV/AIDS, liver diseases, cancer, inflammatory and respiratory diseases, and cardiovascular conditions.

It is estimated that Việt Nam has around four million people with hepatitis C infections.

Representative of a pharmaceutical company who declined to be named said the agreement was believed to be very meaningful to people contracting hepatitis C in Việt Nam.

It would help cut the cost of treating hepatitis C virus by a significant amount, she said.

With the same drugs manufactured by the company, if patients were treated in Việt Nam, the treatment cost would be dozens of times cheaper than in foreign countries, she added.

“And if the health ministry adds the drugs to the list of medicines paid by health insurance, poor patients in our country will benefit,” she said.— VNS






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