Hepatitis drug prices may drop as much as 40%


Farhan Zaheer August 07, 2010

KARACHI: Getz Pharma launched a drug for the treatment of hepatitis in Pakistan on Saturday and its manufacturing will be 40 per cent cheaper than imports, according to executives of the company.

The director marketing and sales of the local pharmaceutical company, Shahzad Khan, said this at the launch ceremony of the product here.

Director General Health of Pakistan Rashid Jooma is convinced that hepatitis is one of the greatest threats to public health and explained that considering the magnitude of the threat the government wants the private sector’s continued support.

Research done by the Pakistan Medical Research Council in 2009 showed that the prevalence of hepatitis C was 4.9 per cent in Pakistan, with Punjab being the most affected with 6.7 per cent followed by Sindh at five per cent.

“Getz Pharma eyes more export markets around the world and its present share in Pakistan’s medicine exports is 40 per cent covering 20 countries,” said the CEO of Getz, Khalid Mahmood, while talking to The Express Tribune.

The Minister of Health Makhdoom Shahabuddin was unable to grace the occasion owing to his responsibilities in coping with the current floods. However, he sent a message stating that it was important for the country to produce such medicines locally, particularly when the prevalence of Hepatitis C was increasing in the country and taking a huge toll on lives.

Federal Secretary Health Khushnood Akhtar Lashari, in his message said the manufacturing of Pegylated Interferon in Pakistan; an essential drug for the treatment of Hepatitis C, was a good omen. He hopes that the production of drug within the country will help bring down the cost of treatment by a substantial amount.

In 1999, the World Health Organisation estimated a global prevalence of about 3 percent with the virus affecting 170 million people worldwide. The figure has now crossed 250 million.

The private sector is being encouraged to introduce low-cost medicines in the country and ambitious hepatitis programmes are being funded by the government, according to Jooma.

Looking at the public health issues in country, I would like to ask Getz Pharma to keep introducing hepatitis related drugs in the country which will reduce the problems of common man, Jooma added.

Published in The Express Tribune, August 8th, 2010.

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