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.
04.16.02; Chris Tomlinson
This article was provided by U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update. Visit the CDC's website to find out more about their activities, publications and services.