2.1 million HIV-affected patients in India face shortage of critical HIV drugs

India, which is home to as many as 2.1 million HIV-affected patients, could run out of critical drugs in its free HIV/AIDS drugs programme in three weeks due to bureaucratic bungling.

Updated: Oct 01, 2014, 23:55 PM IST

Zee Media Bureau

New Delhi: India, which is home to as many as 2.1 million HIV-affected patients, could run out of critical drugs in its free HIV/AIDS drugs programme in three weeks due to bureaucratic bungling.

This could leave the 2.1 million patients without life-saving drugs for a month.

Tenofovir/lamivudine tablets may run out of stock, said sources in the National Aids Control Organisation (NACO), which is the nodal government agency for distribution of the medicine.

While missing dosages can increase patients' drug resistance, changes in medication regimens can give rise to side effects, leaving the virus to spread faster.

Since the antiretroviral drugs are expensive in the open market and are beyond the reach of most patients, majority of the country's 2.1 million HIV-affected depend on the free supply from the government.

However, the NACO sources said all efforts are being made to address the situation through timely replenishment.

Union Health Minister Dr Harsh Vardhan said the stocks will be replenished very soon.

“There is one drug. We will get adequate supply in some time,” he said when contacted.

Government procures these drugs from manufacturing firms through tendering process and it is the delay caused in floating of tender that has caused the delay.

Activists have been complaining of drug shortage, saying patients were not being adequate supply of medicines because of their depleting numbers.

With 2.1 million HIV-infections, India has the third-highest number of people living with HIV in the world, accounting for about four out of 10 people infected with the deadly virus in the Asia-Pacific region, said a UN report.

The contract for the supply of drugs has been awarded but manufacturing process is expected to take time.

(With Agency Inputs)