Nigerian Generic AIDS Drug Program Receives Mixed Results
Nigerian doctors, health officials and AIDS activists are reporting mixed results for Nigeria's first large-scale distribution of generic antiretroviral drugs, Agence France-Presse reports (Obisesan, Agence France-Presse, 5/21). In December 2001, Nigeria began distributing the drugs on a limited basis at 25 centers throughout the country. The program, which uses generic drugs imported from Indian manufacturers Cipla Ltd. and Ranbaxy Laboratories, was supposed to begin in September 2001 but was repeatedly delayed (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 2/27). Dr. Remi Kalejaiye, who runs a clinic in a Lagos military hospital, is "broadly happy" with the trial, which he says is "going even better than we might have expected." He noted that patients are "very positive" about the program. Other doctors say that implementation of the project has been "patchy," prompting concern over whether a nationwide drug distribution program is feasible. Some doctors said that they have not received enough drugs to meet the demand, while others said that they have an adequate supply of medicines. Mohammed Farouk, national coordinator for the Nigerian AIDS Alliance, said that his group is "not satisfied with the application of the trial," particularly the monitoring, evaluation and counseling components of the program. He stated that some of the doctors involved with prescribing the drugs are not trained in how to distribute them and do not effectively counsel patients in how to use the medicines. Doctors in Lagos said that they believe the program is going well and that the drugs will soon win approval for general use, an action expected to take place in July. Approximately 5.8% of sexually active Nigerians are HIV-positive, an infection rate lower than that of many other African nations (Agence France-Presse, 5/21).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.