Egyptian pharmaceutical company Pharco made news in the past few days after it signed an agreement covering clinical testing and a scale-up of a new treatment for hepatitis C (HCV) costing less than $300, one boasting a 100 percent cure rate.
Dr Amr Fahmy, corporate marketing director at Pharco, told Ahram Online that the company collaborated with the non-profit organisation Drugs for Neglected Diseases Initiative (DNDi) to produce the new drug, which combines two existing medications: sofosbuvir and ravidasvir.
Fahmy said that in a phase three clinical trial, the drug was tested in Egypt on 300 patients. The cure rate was 100 percent.
"The drug was tested and most efficient with genotype 4, which makes up 92% of hepititis C cases in Egypt, but we are collaborating with DNDi to further develop the drug to deliver the same results with other genotypes and serve the whole world," he added.
Sherine Helmy, CEO of Pharco, told Ahram Online that the company is looking to make the cost of the new treatment the lowest worldwide. "We are excited to make a world free of hepititis, and our first hope is Egypt," he said.
Regarding the official price in Egypt, Fahmy said that drug registration was applied for and is awaiting the approval of the Ministry of Health, which will also determine the final price.
DNDi and Pharco stated in a press release that they hope the drug will be available in Egypt within 12 months, and later available worldwide.
HCV is a blood-borne virus that in most cases causes chronic liver disease, leading to fatal liver failure and cancer.
According to World Health Organisation data, virus C patients worldwide surpass 150 million.
Egypt has the world’s highest rates of carriers of the virus. In 2015, the health ministry announced that the number of Egyptians suffering from hepatitis reached more than 6 million, but various reports and studies point out that the actual number could reach up to 15 million out of a population of approximately 90 million.