August 26, 1998
CHICAGO -- On Friday August 28, 1998 The International Association of Physicians in AIDS Care (IAPAC) launched a comprehensive information system that will provide technical assistance to AIDS-treating physicians who are transitioning as many as 65,000 patients globally from Norvir (ritonavir) capsules to Norvir liquid or, if necessary, other antiviral regimens should some patients experience difficulty with the liquid formulation. Because of an unknown manufacturing problem, Abbott Laboratories officials predict supplies of the capsule form of their protease inhibitor may be exhausted in many countries by the end of August.
According to Charles Farthing, MD, chair of IAPAC's ad hoc Norvir Advisory Committee, "Although most HIV specialists are not overly concerned about the transition, there may be many physicians throughout the world who have only a few patients on Norvir capsules and may prefer to seek expert medical opinion on transition issues. There is a need to supply these physicians, their patients, and the pharmacists who dispense prescriptions, with timely, accurate information upon which the success of any anti-AIDS therapy lies."
IAPAC's information system, the IAPAC Norvir Advisory, is a multi-prong system to provide physicians and pharmacists transition information via the association's Web site (www.iapac.org), fax, and/or direct mail. Farthing predicts the majority of concerned healthcare professionals and patients will access information through the new Norvir Advisory section of the IAPAC Web site, which will be launched Friday, August 28. IAPAC is currently registering physicians and pharmacists in a Norvir registry, through which IAPAC will notify them via e-mail when new information is posted on the Norvir section. IAPAC is not enrolling patients on the Norvir registry, and is instead counting on local AIDS service organizations to serve as conduits for the IAPAC Norvir Advisory. The advisory will be translated into multiple languages. Spanish and Portuguese translations will be available in mid-September.
IAPAC Norvir Advisory is under the direction of the Norvir Advisory Committee, members of which include AIDS-treating physicians and representatives from the pharmacist and patient advocate communities. Committee members will review and comment on principal reports featured in the IAPAC Norvir Advisory. Among the first features will be reviews and comments on algorithms being circulated among physicians that offer alternate antiviral regimen options, some of which Farthing characterizes as "potentially harmful to some patients."
The IAPAC Web site has been re-designed to accommodate the IAPAC Norvir Advisory. Among the additions to complement the association's education efforts around the Norvir crisis is the posting of IAPAC's new patient education booklet, "Resistance to HIV/AIDS Drugs," by Douglas D. Richman, MD. The booklet provides the latest information about potential risks of antiviral resistance and cross-resistance that could result if patients do not adhere to their antiviral regimens or switch to inappropriate regimens.
According to IAPAC's Deputy Director, José Zuniga, the association will provide free print copies of the booklets to patients on Norvir who cannot download the document from IAPAC's Web site. All requests for the booklet must be submitted by mail to IAPAC Resistance Booklet, 225 W. Washington, Suite 2200, Chicago, IL 60606. Patients may also fax requests to (312) 419-7079. No phone calls, please.
# # #
The International Association of Physicians in AIDS Care (IAPAC) represents 5,500 physicians and healthcare professionals in 42 countries. IAPAC is devoted to crafting and implementing global strategies to better the lives of all people affected by HIV and AIDS. More information about IAPAC is available on the association's Web site, www.iapac.org.