In a setback to Gilead Sciences (GILD), Malaysia will follow through on plans to issue a license to generic companies to make a version of the pricey Sovaldi hepatitis C pill. In doing so, Malaysia becomes the first country to take such a step amid growing global pushback over the cost of the groundbreaking medicine.

Patient advocates hailed the move as a significant step in widening access to a drug that has revolutionized treatment, but strained governments that are coping with high rates of infection. An estimated 500,000 people, or 2.5 per cent of the Malaysian population, are estimated to be living with the chronic liver disease, according to the Malaysian AIDS Council.

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