Government switches to substitute ARV drugs

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THE government says it has a substitute for the second line drugs for anti-retroviral treatment (ART) which is currently in short supply.

In an interview with the Daily News yesterday, deputy minister of Health John Mangwiro said Ritonavir or Kaletra drugs were in short supply not only in Zimbabwe but the world over.

In 2016, the ministry of Health and Child Care launched new ART national guidelines which recommended the use of Atazanavir/Ritonavir by both adolescents and adults on second line ART.

“We are switching some of the patients to the alternative Dolutegravir combination.
“We wanted to do this gradually and according to a plan that we have mapped out, but now we are accelerating the switch due to the shortage.

“We have already sent out communication to our various centres that they must not shortchange patients.

“The patients are safe and should not be worried as we are putting them on this new drug,” Mangwiro said on the side-lines of a donation of personal protective equipment to Chitungwiza Hospital by Pretoria Portland Cement recently.

The deputy minister emphasised that patients were safe to use the new drug as government was already making headways to introduce new combinations.
“There are about four or five drugs that people living with HIV used to take that have since been replaced and that is what happens with medicines.

“Some of them become old-fashioned and need to be replaced according to international standards and trends,” he said.

In a statement last week, acting permanent secretary in the ministry of Health, Gibson Mhlanga, advised that people living with HIV would only be given one months’ supply of drugs instead of the three months they were accustomed to.

An HIV drug regimen has three lines, with the first taken by most patients who seek treatment early after infection while the second is more expensive and is given to people who are resistant to the first while the third line is the most expensive and most toxic.

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