Indian Parliamentary Committee Releases Report Urging Government To Provide Access to Second-Line Antiretrovirals
The Indian Parliamentary standing committee on health and family welfare recently released a report urging the government to provide HIV-positive people who have developed resistance to first-line antiretroviral drugs with access to second-line antiretrovirals, the Statesman reports (Statesman, 9/4).
National AIDS Control Organization Director-General Sujatha Rao in April said the second-line drugs, which can cost 12 times as much as some older drugs, will be provided after NACO meets its goal of providing first-line antiretroviral treatment to 100,000 people in the country. According to Rao, the government in April was providing about 67,000 people with access to first-line drugs, and between 3,000 and 4,000 new people are added to the program monthly. She added that based on these numbers, NACO could meet the 100,000 treatment target by December 2007. Second-line antiretrovirals cost $239 per person monthly, compared with $239 per person annually for first-line medications (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 4/19).
The committee in its report said about 3,000 to 5,000 people who receive drug access through NACO have developed resistance to first-line drugs, adding that the government's decision to provide second-line treatment access after 100,000 people receive first-line drug access is "insensitive and inhuman." According to the committee, NACO has not fully utilized the seven billion rupees, or about $172 million, allocated for the 2006 to 2007 fiscal period. Actual expenditures reported as of Feb. 15 were 5.8 billion rupees, or about $141 million. The committee said that this spending shortfall will hinder efforts to control the spread of HIV in the country. The committee also noted that efforts to establish sexually transmitted infection clinics, targeted interventions and new schools to provide HIV/AIDS education have not been realized. The committee said that falling short of such goals will have "grave future implications" (Statesman, 9/4).