WHO Should Not ‘Foist Unproven’ Antiretroviral Treatments on World’s HIV/AIDS Patients, Opinion Piece Says
Although the World Health Organization's 3 by 5 Initiative is "ambitious," the agency should "slow down before it causes harm" to the three million people it hopes to treat with antiretroviral drugs by the end of 2005, Dr. Sally Satel, a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, writes in a Los Angeles Times opinion piece. The first "red flag" for WHO was the announcement in June that the agency had removed two drugs produced by Indian generic drug manufacturer Cipla from its list of approved medicines, according to Satel (Satel, Los Angeles Times, 7/1). A WHO official said that Cipla's versions of lamivudine and zidovudine were removed from the list because of problems detected during a routine inspection of an independent laboratory that Cipla had hired to conduct bioequivalence studies of the drugs (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 6/16). However, "this problem is not the only question the organization faces," Satel says, adding that some global health experts are concerned that WHO is "promoting" the use of the fixed-dose combination antiretroviral drug Triomune, which also is produced by Cipla (Los Angeles Times, 7/1). Generic FDCs, including Triomune, combine three different medicines into one pill that is taken twice a day (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 4/29). Satel says that promoting the drug presents a "dilemma: the need to balance drug-related deaths and illness from using Triomune against the numbers of people who would go untreated altogether if aid agencies adopted a flexible but more expensive strategy." She concludes that WHO "must regain the world's confidence and not foist unproven drug therapies on the world's poor and sick" (Los Angeles Times, 7/1).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.