“And in the order of caring for a heart attack, it would be five to 10 per cent what it would cost in the west with the same outcomes. Very few people will die in the end.
“Right now we are estimating that the drug will be up and running within the next three to six months because it is just a matter of the government procuring the drug.
“Negotiations with the Indian government are going fantastic and I think this is because they are also acutely aware of our problem,” he added.
Dr Malya also revealed that Fiji was looking to procure enough Alteplase from the Indian government to treat 40,000 people.
He said the project envisioned a day when dealing with heart attacks in Fiji became routine and cost effective.
Dr Malya also said Fiji was the first resource poor country in the world to have the drug brought in making it a pioneer in the medical world.
“If this program is successful, it will be replicable and translatable to the rest of the developing world and that would be a massive gift for Fiji to give,” Dr Malya said.
“We know it works in the west but we want to prove it in a resource limited place like Fiji,” he said
He said when administered effectively, the drug had a 95 to 100 per cent success rate meaning it was much more successful than drugs available here.
Fiji currently uses a first generation version of the Altaplase drug however, Dr Malya said this was not as effective.
Permanent secretary for Health Dr Eloni Tora said the ministry certainly considered the use of Alteplase for the treatment of acute myocardial infarction (AMI).
“However, the ministry would first like to hold discussions with the FNU team on the options that is best suited for Fiji in the treatment of AMI as Alteplase is much more expensive than streptokinase,” Dr Tora said.
“Currently, the ministry already has a guideline for the treatment of AMI which uses the drug streptokinase.”
Director of the Fiji National University Emergency Medicine Residency Program Prof Craig Adams said one of the programs they were working on with the advent of this new drug was community awareness.
“One of the things we need to work on concurrently with this is a public awareness program in the community to recognise when a person is actually having a heart attack,” Prof Adams said.
“65 per cent of Pacific people die of cardiovascular-related disease and when they don’t die, the cost for society is expensive,” he said.