Nigerian Program to Supply Generic Antiretrovirals Delayed
A Nigerian pilot program that would provide discounted generic antiretrovirals to HIV-positive citizens did not begin on Sept. 1 as planned, Reuters/ABCNews.com reports. Touted as "Africa's most ambitious generic AIDS treatment program," the pilot project plans to provide 10,000 adults and 5,000 children with generic copies of antiretroviral drugs. The Nigerian government purchased the drugs from Indian drug maker Cipla Ltd. for $350 per year per person, and plans to subsidize up to 80% of the cost. Reuters/ABCNews.com reports that the launch of the program has been delayed for several reasons -- the technicians who will monitor and evaluate the program have not been trained, the government has not indicated "where or how" the medicines will be distributed and no list has been released naming those who will receive the drugs. Dr. Oni Idigbe, the director general of the Nigerian Medical Institute of Research and a member of the committee in charge of the program, said that the program "might start on Sept. 7." Dr. Sani Gwarzo, the program's technical director, stated that the program will move to an accelerated phase within two years to reach thousands more people with HIV. The government hopes to eventually supply antiretrovirals to all HIV-positive Nigerians.
AIDS Advocates 'Skeptical'
Reuters/ABCNews.com reports that AIDS advocates and HIV-positive citizens remain "skeptical" about the program and whether the government will live up to its promises. Lt. Nsikak Ekpe, a navy engineer who counsels people for the Nigerian AIDS Alliance, said his organization "does not know of anyone who has been told they will receive the drugs." He added, "There are problems with everything. They said this would commence Sept. 1. ... Everything regarding the costs, the mode of distribution, etc. -- these things should have been worked out before" (Doran, Reuters/ABCNews.com, 8/31).