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International News

Kenyan HIV/AIDS Patients Face Periodic Shortages of Drugs, Hampering Treatment

April 17, 2002

Kenyan HIV patients have faced periodic shortages of critical drugs over the past six months, hampering their treatment and threatening to create drug-resistant strains of the virus, an advocacy group said Tuesday. Those few patients who can afford discounted drugs have found it difficult to fill their prescriptions because the drugs, manufactured outside of Kenya, have sold out, Liza Kimbo of the Kenya Coalition for Access to Essential Medicines said at a press conference.

"There is a shortage of medicine at the end of every financial quarter," Kimbo said. She called on drug companies to improve the distribution system and ensure a steady supply, or else the government should approve the sale of generic equivalents.

Dr. John Wasanga, an HIV/AIDS specialist at Mbaguthi Hospital in Nairobi, said his patients have consistently had trouble filling prescriptions for the drug therapies they are taking, forcing them to either switch therapies, take the wrong dosages or simply go without. Mukesh Mehta, the managing director of Phillips Pharmaceuticals in Kenya, which distributes Bristol-Myers Squibb antiretroviral drugs, said the shortages were caused by a surge in demand since the price cuts were made. "Nobody could really estimate the number of patients that would take part in the access initiative, but now we have forecasts in place, so there shouldn't be a problem," Mehta said. "There has been a 10-time to 20-time increase in demand ...We've taken a lot of steps to ensure that we don't have this problem again." "Where we have had a problem, we have increased our buffer stock and this problem is behind us," said Dr. William Kiari, commercial director for GlaxoSmithKline.

Back to other CDC news for April 17, 2002

Previous Updates

Adapted from:
Associated Press
04.16.02; Chris Tomlinson

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This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update.
See Also
HIV/AIDS Treatment in Kenya