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Jakarta Post

Activists demand cheaper Hepatitis C drugs

  • The Jakarta Post

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta   /   Tue, July 30, 2013   /  02:24 pm

A group of 14 non-governmental organizations running a campaign titled '€œPeople 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.

'€œBut 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.

'€œThe 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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