THE Ministry of health is yet to phase out the first line ARV drug Stavudine to pave way for a more effective Zidovine drug THE move by the Ministry of Health to phase out a first line drug against HIV(Stavudine) with the plans to introduce a more safer and more better tolerated Tenovir and Zidovine is a good gesture that has come too late.
The withdrawal of this drug form antiretroviral treatment programme has been received with mixed feelings from a cross-section of society.
The move has 10 years after the introduction of Stavudine and obviously hundreds if not thousands have since perished due to its chronic effects that are often irreplaceable.
Recently, the National Anti-retroviral Co-ordinator,Dr>Albert Mwango announced the ministry’s intention to withdraw a first line drug from the public as it has been found with a number of defects.
Stavudine has been linked with high toxicity, adverse effects on cholesterol metabolism, painful neuropathy, pancreatitis, sunken cheeks and buffalo humps and it will be replaced with a tolerated Tenovir and Zidovine drugs.
Now one might wonder, is it that Zambia and Africa at large does not have the capacity to carry out meaningfull research and submit to the manufacturers?
Or is it that Zambia and Africa are grounds for the many on-going pilot projects from unscrupulous scientists that want to make quick money?
Well to some extent this could be blamed on lack of capacity and adequate resources to carry out huge projects visa a viz medical invention and research and also lack of political will.
Speaking in an interview with the Lusaka Star News, a 43 year old Matero unanimous Anti-retroviral treatment beneficiary said that he was hopeless because even the newly introduced drug will not be able to cure his complications.
He said the move will obviously be more beneficial to new patients that will be initiated to the new drug and not those that have been using it for over 5 years.
“It is a good move but unfortunately not for us who have been already permanently deformed by that drug, the new comers will instead benefit” he said.
Meanwhile, a 3rd year University of Zambia Pharmacy student(name withheld) explained that it was quiet unfortunate that only a few if not none of medical research projects of such nature are going on in Zambia.
He said there was need to make huge investments in health institutions so as to generate the capacity for timely vital medical research projects if Zambia is to protect its patients.
“Currently there is nothing that can be done to reverse the effects but there is need to invest in health institutions like UNZA so that we are able to conduct timely research” he said.
Another Lusaka resident and unanimous A.R.T beneficially (38) said that he will accept to be administered with a new drug as he was optimistic of getting better even if it has come to late.
“Nanga tizachita bwanji boss?mankhwala yamene aya nikuyamwa che because yazatitandiza” he said.
He said there was nothing more he could do but to continue even with the newly introduced drug as he believed he will prolong his life in some way.
Concerns over the ill effects of Stavudine d4t,a first line drug against HIV for long, the centre plans to replace it with a more safer and more better tolerated Tenovir and Zidovine.
Stavudine has been linked with high toxicity, adverse effects on cholesterol metabolism, painful neuropathy, pancreatitis, sunken cheeks and buffalo humps.
The National Aids Council (NAC), has decided to shift to the new regimen in two phases-adult patients on Stavudine for 6-24 months will be shifted to Tenovovir or Zidovine in phase 1 will commence as soon as possible
While these undergoing treatment for longer will be shifted in phase two which will start probably a few months from now.
No new adult shall be initiated on Stavudine based regimen, new anemic patients will be started on Tenovovir based regimen and non anemic on Zidovudine.