Roll-out of new six-in-one ARV will be limited

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A NEW HIV-Aids treatment drug has received a mixed reaction, with concerns raised in some quarters that most patients would not immediately have access to it.

FIXED DOSE COMBO: Doctor Yolie Pakade with the new ARVs  at Frere Hospital yesterday Picture: MARK ANDREWS
FIXED DOSE COMBO: Doctor Yolie Pakade with the new ARVs at Frere Hospital yesterday Picture: MARK ANDREWS

The drug Atroiza (Atripla), which government began rolling out yesterday , will initially only be available to pregnant and lactating mothers and newly diagnosed patients with a CD4 count of less than 350, provincial health spokesman Sizwe Kupelo said.
Dubbed the Fixed Dose Combo (FDC) as it combines six tablets into a single daily dose, Atroiza is expected to reduce side-effects such as deformities. Kupelo said it would also encourage adherence to treatment and reduce drug resistance.
However the Treatment Action Campaign’s Vuyiseka Dubula raised concerns about the millions of patients who would still have to continue taking a difficult cocktail of six tablets indefinitely.
“We are told suppliers cannot cope with the numbers and we appreciate we need to be realistic because pharmaceuticals will manufacture the six-dose combination (FDC) for the first time,” said Dubula.
“But it’s not fair to create an Animal Farm situation where only a few can access better treatment,” Dubula said in reference to George Orwell’s classic novel that highlights inequality and double standards in society.
HIV activist Neliswa Bikwe from Siyayinqoba Beat it! echoed Dubula’s sentiments .
“I have been on ARVs since 2007 and if it was possible to take the new pill tomorrow I would jump at the opportunity ,” said Bikwe.
Kupelo said: “The Eastern Cape has enough new drugs to be distributed to pregnant, breastfeeding and newly diagnosed patients with a CD4 count of less than 350.
“From September this year, existing patients will be able to switch to the new regime at the discretion of their physician.”
The head of the ARV clinic at Frere Hospital, Dr Yolie Pakade, said FDC could help realise goals like reducing mother to child transmission (MTCT) .
Frere Hospital chief executive Rolene Wagner said MTCT in the province was 3.4% and 1.6% in the Buffalo City sub-district.
“The government wants to reduce MTCT to one percent by 2015/16. With this drug we may achieve that target,” said Pakade. — siyam@dispatch.co.za/ mamelag@dispatch.co.za

17 COMMENTS

  1. Have read the leaflet inside the new drug,have read contra-indications,the manufacturer has put it THAT this Drug :MUST NOT be used during PREGNANCY & BREASTFEEDING.Must we ignore this warning? Or Let the manufacturer Explain?

    • @Nokuthula: as you correctly state, the package insert states that Atroiza (specifically the EFV component) is teratogenic in pregnancy. Apparently, this is based on animal studies, and retrospective human studies have shown no different rates of defects in children of mothers taking EFV. I can’t substantiate this at the moment, but this is the Department of Health official line. It does create a rather interesting situation though, in which the manufacturer who won the tender to supply this to government still prints a warning against use in pregnancy/lactation.

  2. I’m also pregnant I got Atroiza 2day but if I read the inside paper this tablets is not recommended for pregnant and breastfeeding woman I’m scared of taking this pills wht if I get miscarriage who’s fault will be that and its says you must take this pill in an empty stomach but in the clinic they ddnt announced me about that,they only said I must come back after seven days for review is it safe to take this pill?

  3. i got Atroiza yesterday when i found out im pregnant and hiv positive… I really confused cos the sista said i’ll drnk this for the rest of my life… Will i be able to breat feed my baby when i stop when the baby is born

  4. hello there

    my mom is taking Atroiza and i would like to have more information on the drugs, including what are the side effects of the drug.

    can you send me websites or people that i can call and talk to?

    thanks
    AMK

  5. How is this new regimen different from 3 pills a day? what are the side effects? Can I have kids if i want to? what are the dangers of this one pill a day?

  6. i started takng this atroiza pill last week,i’ve been dizzy ever since then and now i’ve got diarrhea and a strange headache with no energy. I’m so scared what if i loose my baby bcoz it is not recommended for pregnancy. Please help me i’m dying

    • Please see my comments above. The package insert is a useful read to find out more information, but probably shouldn’t be done without the guidance of a medical practitioner (as every drug has a multitude of side effects, but most people won’t get any of them).

      Atroiza is a standard ARV regimen, but with the six daily doses (3 ARVs in the morning, 3 ARVs in the evening) rolled into one – so it’s simpler to take.

      It contains two potential ‘problem’ drugs…
      – efavirenz: 1) package insert warns against use in pregnancy and breastfeeding, but later studies have given this the OK (see the link I have given above); 2) it can cause strange dreams, disturbed sleep and dizziness, but these symptoms usually improve after 3-4 weeks
      – tenofovir: 1) potential to damage kidneys, but this will be monitored for.

      All in all, it’s a move by the government to reduce mother-to-child-transmission, and it should be effective and safe.

      • I was given the pill with bactrim is it safe to take I’m currently 37weeks I was on tribuss before now when I went they gave me atroiza I’m jus afraid , it won’t harm my baby?

  7. Had been taking the pill its the third month nd m pregnancy ofcoz they never said to take it into an empty stomach bt take at nite and beside strange dreams and feeling nausea in the morning Im ok….so ladies dont be scared just try it

  8. I HAD DT PPL MUST TAKE ATROIZA WHEN DY A 350 CD4 BT M I WS 790 CD4 THOSE NURSES GAVE M PILLS N SAID I WL LIV IT AFTR DELIVERY IS ITS IMPOSSIBLE?

  9. Hi

    This is my 2nd day taking it and God did i get a strange dream, i wonder why it it does that though and the way i was so dizzy b4 sleeping i swear i was even scared to sleep cos i thought i was going to die in my sleep. Otherwise so far so good.

  10. hey,
    am not HIV but my mom Is and she’s bin taking her pills very well but I think 1 pill is better than 6 pills a day and maybe It would help to those who don’t want to take their pills.

  11. I also pregnant and taking the pills I take them at 8 than I get dizzy by 9 and sleep but by 11 to 12 I wake up and I also wake up at 3 anyone who knows what causes that is it the pills or the pregnancy?

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