Uganda Suspends Sales of Antiretroviral Drugs at Pharmacies Over Reports of Counterfeit Drug Sales
Uganda's director general of health services has directed the country's National Drug Authority to suspend antiretroviral drugs sales on the open market following reports that some doctors have been selling counterfeit drugs to patients, Xinhua News Agency reports (Xinhua News Agency, 8/1). Peter Mugyenyi, director of the country's Joint Clinical Research Centre, on Thursday at a parliamentary committee meeting on HIV/AIDS said that some people have been selling the counterfeit drugs in containers resembling those used to sell authentic antiretrovirals, Uganda's New Vision reports (Ngatya, New Vision, 7/31). Director-General of Health Services Francis Omaswa said that the two pharmacies that had been licensed to sell the drugs would be ordered to stop doing so until guidelines on the drugs were issued. In the meantime, patients could obtain antiretrovirals at 54 government-accredited centers throughout the country, Omaswa said (Xinhua News Agency, 8/1). Mugyenyi also said that some health workers have been giving incorrect instructions for use of the drugs, which could lead to the development of drug-resistant HIV strains. "Adherence is the key. If you are a doctor and not yet exposed to ARV management, do not administer it," Mugyenyi said. JCRC plans to implement new programs to train health workers, including midwives, to administer the drugs (New Vision, 7/31).
Antiretroviral Drug Program
Omaswa on Friday also announced that health centers in all counties in the country will be able to distribute antiretroviral drugs by 2005 (Namutebi/Ngatya, New Vision, 8/2). An estimated 100,000 of the 1.2 million HIV-positive Ugandans are in need of antiretroviral treatment, but as of December 2003 only 17,000 people had access to the drugs. The country in June began administering the drugs with funding through initial grants from the World Bank and the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. In addition, Uganda in February received $37 million in funding from the U.S. President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief. That amount represents half of what the country is expected to receive under the initiative for fiscal year 2004, and a portion of the money will be used to help provide antiretroviral drug treatment for 60,000 HIV-positive people as well as care and support for an additional 300,000 HIV-positive people (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 6/15). Distributing the drugs throughout all counties in the country will be the third phase of the rollout of the antiretroviral drug program, Omaswa said, adding that the second phase -- in which district and nongovernmental hospitals are preparing to distribute the drugs -- is expected to be completed by December (New Vision, 8/2).