Drugs for HIV patients running out of supply
MANILA, Philippines — More than 38,000 people with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) face a shortage of drugs for their daily antiretroviral therapy (ART), according to Anakalusugan party list Rep. Michael Defensor.
“The Department of Health (DOH) acknowledged during a budget briefing that the 125 HIV treatment hubs across the country have just enough drug supplies to last until this week,” Defensor said in a statement on Sunday.
He said that DOH officials had reportedly assured lawmakers that new batches of ART drugs would arrive within the month, but they did not specify the date.
“The uninterrupted supply of drugs in HIV treatment hubs is crucially important because apart from the 38,000 cases already on ART, another 900 Filipinos are being initiated on ART every month,” Defensor said.
But the DOH on Sunday assured the public that there was enough treatment for Filipinos with HIV amid rumors of a drug shortage nationwide.
In a phone interview, Dr. Napoleon Arevalo, head of the DOH Disease Prevention and Control Division, said that their current supply of antiretroviral drugs would last until October.
“We have supplies coming this September that would last eight to 12 months. Then for 2020, our procurement has a six-month buffer,” he said.
The World Health Organization said that the standard ART consisted of the combination of at least three antiretroviral drugs that would suppress the virus and stop the progression of the disease.
When used in the early stages, huge reductions in death rates have been recorded.
The DOH data showed that as of May, 38,279 Filipinos with HIV were undergoing the therapy.
These account for only 57 percent of over 67,000 cases listed in the country’s national HIV and acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) registry.
HIV is the virus that causes AIDS.
As of May, 3,357 patients listed in the registry had already died. —With a report from Tina G. Santos