Health Department's dolutegravir plans hit stumbling block

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The Health Department’s plans to switch HIV patients to a cheaper pill containing dolutegravir have hit yet another stumbling block after measures instituted by the medicines regulator to warn women of its potential risks have unexpectedly scared them off. Business Day reports that more than six months after the government awarded supply contracts to pharmaceutical manufacturers, a mere 35,000 patients are on the new pills. The extremely low numbers have prompted the Health Department to ask the SA Health Products Regulatory Authority (Sahpra) to review its requirements, which are to be relaxed from this week.

“There has been a reluctance by prescribers and female patients to have to sign a form to access TLD (the new pill, which contains tenofovir, lamivudine and dolutegravir). Currently no other HIV treatment has this restriction,” said the health department’s acting director-general, Anban Pillay.

Projections in the supply contracts awarded to pharmaceutical manufacturers in July 2019 for TLD forecast the provision of 147m packs over three years, equivalent to about 4m patients a month.

Full Business Day report

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