No Pediatric Formulas of Antiretroviral Drugs Available in Mainland China, South China Morning Post Reports
Although the Chinese government has made antiretroviral drugs available to some HIV-positive people at no cost, "virtually" no pediatric formulas of the medications are available for HIV-positive children in mainland China, the South China Morning Post reports. Eight pediatric formulas of antiretroviral drugs have been registered with the government, but none is being marketed on the mainland, and "many doctors simply refuse to treat children because they lack the training to give accurate doses," according to the Morning Post. Some doctors and HIV/AIDS advocates say they believe pharmaceutical companies have not made the pediatric formulas available because the market for children's drugs is "too small," according to the Morning Post. The William J. Clinton Presidential Foundation has said it wants to donate antiretroviral drugs to 200 HIV-positive children in mainland China, but the proposal is pending approval because some of the proposed antiretroviral formulas have not been approved by the Chinese government, Zhao Yan, a pediatrician at China's Center for Disease Prevention and Control, said, according to the Morning Post. "We are hoping that a (special) channel can be created for the import of these drugs," Zhao said, adding, "Otherwise, it could take months or years to complete the procedures to make it possible for the drugs to come in." Official data show that 1,000 HIV-positive children live in mainland China, but the actual figure likely is "several times that," Zhao said, the Morning Post reports.
Currently, doctors in China base pediatric drug dosages on the weight and health of the HIV-positive child, but children too young or weak to swallow pills cannot take the medications. Zhao said it is "better than nothing" to administer lower doses of adult antiretroviral drug formulas to HIV-positive children who can take them, but it is not recommended, according to the Morning Post. "The drug components are not evenly distributed in a tablet," she said, adding, "That means the children will have a larger dose one day and a smaller does the next. It is not good, and children may develop drug resistance" (Ma, South China Morning Post, 1/12).