SHORTAGE OF FIRST LINE HIV MEDICINE HITS 5K PATIENTS
DELAY IN SUPPLY OF DRUGS LEADING TO CRISIS
An acute shortage of first-line HIV drugs has hit nearly 5,000 patients living with the life-threatening viral infection in the city. For the past three weeks, several patients claimed to have been turned away from the anti-retroviral therapy (ART) centres.
Most centres have run out of stocks of Tenofovir and Lamivudine, both of which are crucial drugs prescribed in combination with a few others as the first-line HIV regimen. Tenofovir, in certain instances, is also used as a combination drug in the second-line therapy.
One of the affected patients told TOI that major centres at BYL Nair and Sion hospitals too do not have these drugs. “The shortage that started with bigger centres has now hit even the smaller centers at MT Agarwal Hospital in Mulund and Siddharth Hospital in Goregaon, who too have run out of medicines for the past one week now,” he said. “Without ART medicines, most HIV patients may fall sick as their viral load will increase,” he said.
Another patient said hospitals like JJ in Byculla and KEM in Parel are the only ones with some stock. “They too are giving the drugs only for a week,“ he said. “There is no word from the authorities, including the Mumbai District Aids Control Society or Maharashtra State Aids Control Society (MSACS) as to when the medicines will arrive,“ he added.
Head of medicine at KEM Hospital Dr A R Pazare said that they had stocks, which should last for about a month or two. A senior official from MSACS said the shortage was caused by a delay in supply of the drug by one specific supplier. “We have got the stock on Friday and it has already been released to all the ART centers in the state. We have also provided MDACS with 21,000 tablets. Drugs should be available by Monday hopefully ,“ the officer said.
Despite several attempts, National Aids Control Society (Naco) officials could not be reached for comments.