Mumbai: Shortage of HIV medicines at JJ Hospital, complain patients

Mumbai: Acute shortage of third line antiviral medicines at the HIV centre of the Sir Jamshedji Jeejeebhoy Hospital has led to a worrying situation for the patients who are undergoing treatment for HIV at the hospital. However, the officials from the Mumbai District Aids Control Society (MDACS) confirmed there had been a shortage but claimed it has been resolved.

Doctors said the shortage is not only at the JJ hospital but it’s across the state as they have been handing out weekly doses to patients instead of giving them a month’s supply of medicines. One of the patients said they have to wait for six hours in a queue to take the five days dosage of HIV. “Earlier we were administered with two months or month dosage but since there is a shortage they give us five-day dosage due to which we have to come twice to the centre. It is complete chaos at the ART centre as we come all the way from Bhiwandi and we have to wait for long in a queue which often leads to fighting,” added patient.

Third-line therapy is also known as salvage therapy which is a combination of drugs, Darunavir, Ritonavir and Raltegravir which are given to patients with limited options of an anti-HIV drug. The therapy was started by JJ hospital and it is the only ART centre in the state which gives out third line drugs.

Ganesh Acharya, TB survivor and HIV Activist said the reports of shortages been piling up since June 18, however, we waited patiently thinking the situation might improve in a week or month. We assumed that DAC (NACO) would aptly relocate the medicines and overcome the shortage situation. “In spite of heavy rains and other difficulties people are reaching the ART centre and are being given 5 days medicines. NACO policies stress a lot on the issues of adherence and by these shortages, it is putting the lives of HIV’s on ART at stake,” added Acharya.

A senior doctor from JJ Hospital said the hospital’s ART centre is handling 374 third-line regimen cases. “Usually we hand over a month’s supply of medicines to such patients but because of the medicine shortage, we have to call them twice-a-week,” he added. However, the officials from the Mumbai District Aids Control Society (MDACS) confirmed there had been a shortage but claimed it has been resolved. “The centre recently received fresh stock of medicines to last the next three months. The shortage was a result due to a company which manufactures Raltegravir had delivered only a part of a consignment which resulted to a shortage. However, now the patient can take a month stock,” said Dr Srikala Acharya, Assistant Project Director, MDACS.

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