ISLAMABAD (Web Desk) – Federal government has allowed the import of an expensive Hepatitis-C drug, hailed by experts as a “game-changer”, Sovaldi, from the US to improve treatment for the estimated eight million people carrying the blood infection.

According to media reports, Sovaldi, which has been on the market since 2013, costs around $1,000 per pill in the US or $84,000 for a single course of treatment, according to a US Senate report released last December.

The drug is now being sold nationally by a Pakistani pharmacy chain for around Rs32,000 per 28 tablets, while the government is urging local manufacturers to produce generic copies on an urgent basis.

“It is estimated that some eight million people are suffering from Hepatitis-C in the country and each year about 80,000 people will die,” a senior health ministry official said.

“These deaths are caused by advanced liver disease spanning over a period of 20-30 years,” he added.

“The government had to act urgently and even before the formal registration of the drug in the country, it gave special permission to import Sovaldi tablets from the US.”

Last October Pakistan’s drug authority received 61 applications from pharmaceutical firms to produce Sofosbuvir tablets, the generic name of the drug, of which 14 manufacturers were finally approved.

Gilead Sciences, which makes Sovaldi, has been criticised in the US for the drug’s cost.

Hepatitis-C is a blood infection transmitted via contaminated needles, sexual intercourse, and from pregnant mothers to their unborn children.