SA still giving out toxic d4T to patients

2010-01-11 00:00

DESPITE recommendations by the World Health Organisation (WHO) to phase out anti-retroviral Stavudine (d4T) because of its long-term side effects, the country is still administering the drug.

The world health body recommended the adaptation of Zidovudine (AZT) or Tenofovir (Dts), which are said to be less toxic. Some of the side-effects mentioned are lipodystrophy and lactic acidosis.

Skills Development Officer for Treatment Action Campaign Lawrence Mbalati described lipodystrophy as fat loss from the face, buttocks and limbs.

Lactic acidosis is described as an illness caused when lactic acid is not eliminated from the body and instead builds up in the blood and cells, causing abdominal pains, nausea, vomiting and muscle weakness.

In the province there are about 336 000 people who are on anti-retrovirals and 305 000 of those are active collectors.

Provincial health spokesman Chris Maxon confirmed last Tuesday that d4T remains part of the province’s treatment guideline.

He said in response to the cases with adverse side effects reported at the dosage of 40 milligrams, the department has put patients on the 30 milligrams dosage.

“The treatment protocol will be reviewed around March this year and as a province we would be obliged to adhere to the nationally agreed protocol,” Maxon said.

“It [d4T] remains a cornerstone of treatment in resource limited settings due to lack of alternatives. It must be remembered that one of the considerations in its introduction initially was the fact that it is relatively cheap and does not interact with most other opportunistic infections, including Tuberculosis,” he said.

Mbalati also acknowledged the side-effects of d4T.

However, he raised the concern that warehouses are still full of stock and that tenders to produce it have not expired.

 

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