The Maharashtra State AIDS Control Society (MSACS) is struggling to ensure a consistent supply of drugs for HIV patients who are on second-line anti retroviral treatment. In Pune, B J Medical College and Sassoon general hospital just got its consignment of Atazanavir — a crucial drug to treat those on second-line treatment — while places such as Sangli and Aurangabad will get their share in a day or two.
The ART centre at Sassoon general hospital that provides free drugs to registered 5,961 HIV positive patients whose CD 4 count is less than 350, has another 711 patients on second- line of treatment as they have developed resistance to the earlier drugs. The paediatric dosage of Lopinavir in syrup form is also in short supply. Officials, however, said tablets are being given to the children.
Lack of refrigeration facility has halted the transport of this drug (syrup) from Satara . “We will get the facility soon,” officials at ART told Newsline. While stock of some of the drugs such as Abacavir will last for 55 patients for a month, Sassoon only received the second line drug Atazanavir recently. “We had no option but to give drugs to the patients for a week. However with the new stock we can provide drugs for a month,” said an officials from B J M C.
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For some, such as Sangeeta Khodshiv, a domestic help, the three-hour travel time from Ahmednagar to Pune is too expensive to buy medicines to treat HIV. “At the hospital here they tell me to go to Sassoon. When I reach Pune I am given medicines for a week. How do I manage?” she asks. She has been living with HIV since 2010 and gets her monthly quota from the ART centre at Ahmednagar. As there is no second-line ART centre there, she has to travel to Pune.
Dr Swapnali Patil, joint director, MSACS, said, “There were some problems with the tendering process last year due to which the order for second-line drugs was delayed. The manufacturing company has released the first batch and drugs have been sent to some of the ART centres .”
Across the state, 1.72 lakh patients of whom 49 per cent are women, avail of free drugs at 82 ART centres . There are 7,800 children living with HIV on medication while a total of 2,800 patients require second-line anti retroviral treatment, Patil said. At resent, there are six centres dispensing second-line drugs including Pune’s B J Medical College and Sassoon general hospital, J J Hospital at Mumbai,Sion hospital at Mumbai.
“We cannot immediately introduce ART centres to dispense second line drugs at district level hospitals. It requires a thorough check of the patients’ viral load,” Patil said. However there is a move to introduce five more centres dispensing second line drugs,” she added.