The 72 antiretroviral therapy (ART) centres in the state, which distribute free medicines to patients with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), are running out of drugs. The current stock will last only for another three weeks and patients are being given medicines for fewer days.
The Maharashtra State Aids Control Society (MSACS), which runs these centres, has already asked the National Aids Control Organisation (NACO) to speed up the supply to avoid any further shortage. “We are making sure that no patient misses the dose. Instead of giving them a month-long drug supply, we are instead giving them a fortnight’s medicines,” said Kushalsinh Pardeshi, project director, MSACS.
Currently, NACO is responsible for supplying drugs to the groups working with Aids patients. Agencies such as MSACS, implement the programme which involves testing, treatment and prevention to reduce HIV transmission.
HT accessed the drug availability at the 72 centres and found the glaring shortage of these life-saving drugs. For instance, as on June 10, these centres had a stock of just 6.64 lakh stock of first-line drugs, Zidovudine, Lamivudine and Nevirapine, (a combination of drugs given to patients during the first-line of treatment), while the requirement was 42.45 lakh.
“We are confident that patients will not be affected. We have already received additional drugs from other states. The centre has also promised to supply the drugs at the earliest,” said Pardeshi.
Sources said that drug manufacturing companies have demanded exemption from taxes, which is one of the factors causing the delay in supply. The second-line drugs, which are given to patients who do not respond to first-line drugs, are also in short-supply.
Dr Ishwar Gilada, president, Aids Society of India (ASI), said, “Patients are given one or two drugs and are asked to buy the remaining from the chemist, leading to a mismatch in doses.”
A senior NACO official, said, “The supply will be restored in a few days. There are 25 different drugs beings supplied, there is always some drug which will remain in shortage.”