July 30, 2013

Activists demand cheaper Hepatitis C drugs

The Jakarta Post, Jakarta | National | Tue, July 30 2013, 2:24 PM

A group of 14 non-governmental organizations running a campaign titled “People living with HIV/AIDS (ODHA) have a right to health” signed an online petition urging a drug manufacturer to offer Hepatitis C drugs at lower prices.

The petition launched via public campaign platform change.org is aimed at urging Roche Indonesia to immediately cut the prices of Hepatitis C drugs, the patent of which belongs to it parent Swiss multinational pharmaceuticals company.

In Indonesia, the official figure of people with Hepatitis C is estimated at 7 million, although the actual figure is likely higher due to low the awareness of the need to have a Hepatitis C test. The high cost of the test aggravates the problem.

For people living with HIV/AIDS, Hepatitis C infection has become a particular source of concern because co-infection of HIV and hepatitis C virus (HCV) exacerbates their condition and can lead to death.

The campaign’s public campaigner, Ayu Oktariani, said many ODHA managed to survive and were still healthy because the government provided HIV-infected people with anti-retroviral drugs for free.

“But ODHA co-infected with Hepatitis C makes their life expectancy lower because in Indonesia, Hepatitis C medication is costly,” said Ayu in a statement made available to The Jakarta Post, on Tuesday.

Currently, Hepatitis C medication costs around Rp 25 million (US$2,425) per month, with medication until recovery costing more than Rp 250 million per patient.

“The role of our government in regulating the trade of pharmaceuticals is still very weak. As a result, multinational companies can set the prices of drugs as they like,” said Indonesia AIDS Coalition executive director Aditya Wardhana. (ebf)


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