Jamaica Observer (Kingston) (01.25.11) - Thursday, January
The shortage of some antiretrovirals has resulted in their
being distributed in one-week rations instead of the customary
monthly dosage - or sometimes, not at all. The drugs in short
supply are lopinavir and ritonavir (Aluvia) and emtricitabine
and tenofovir (Truvada).
According to Tony Hron, program development manager at Jamaica
AIDS Support for Life, the organization's clients have
complained since last November that they were unable to get
the drugs at some public pharmacies. "These drugs require 90
to 95 percent adherence," said Hron, further noting that
noncompliance will result in a rebound of the virus.
Dr. Kevin Harvey, head of the National HIV/STI program,
admitted that lopinavir has been rationed due to inclement
weather in the United States and Europe, which grounded
flights and delayed arrival of the drugs from India in
November and December. Rationing was instituted to prevent
patients from running out entirely, Harvey explained.
According to Harvey, a shipment has since come in and will be
distributed soon. "The stock is still not up to where it
should be, but we are hoping another supply will come in
February, and so by the end of February everyone should be
able to get their full supply," said Harvey.
An anonymous member of the Jamaica Network of Seropositives
noted that the intermittent shortage has been more severe
since the beginning of January. Some members cannot afford
weekly bus fare to collect the rations, and it is difficult to
have prescriptions filled in other parishes not as badly
affected, he said.
Adherence could be improved, Hron said, if patients with a
history of compliance were given two months' supply at a time.
The current situation also raises the question of whether
Jamaica is prepared to locally distribute lifesaving drugs in
the wake of a natural disaster, he added.