Unlicensed Drug Importers Selling Antiretrovirals In Zimbabwe

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Antiretrovirals Drugs

Unlicensed drug importers illegally are selling antiretroviral drugs inZimbabwe at unregulated locations like flea markets and hair salons,the country's Medicines Control Authority said recently, Zimbabwe's Financial Gazette reports.

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Somehealth experts warn that the nonprescription antiretrovirals couldresult in the development of widespread drug resistance. According tosome health professionals, the circulation of illegal medication is areflection of the collapse of the government's health careinfrastructure, as well as severe deficiencies in controlling thedrugs' manufacture and importation (Financial Gazette, 7/26).

Thecountry's efforts to increase access to antiretrovirals have beendelayed by a shortage of foreign currency, which has increased povertylevels and raised inflation by 3,700%. More than 3,000 people die ofAIDS-related illnesses weekly in the country, and 70% of hospitaladmissions in Zimbabwe are HIV/AIDS-related. According to ZimbabweHealth and Child Welfare Minister David Parirenyatwa, at least 300,000people living with HIV/AIDS in the country are in need ofantiretrovirals (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 6/11). According to the Gazette,62,000 HIV-positive people are on the government's treatment program,but the figure is expected to double by the end of the year.

Sellingantiretrovirals on the black market is a "dangerous practice becausethe medicines may have been subjected to inappropriate and hazardousstorage conditions," Parirenyatwa said, adding, "Such medicines may becounterfeited, adulterated and contaminated, thus rendering themineffective and sometimes dangerous." The health ministry is attemptingto curb the illegal sale of antiretrovirals, and the Southern Africa HIV and AIDS Information Dissemination Service has been asked to evaluate the situation, Parirenyatwa said (Financial Gazette, 7/26).

Reprinted with permission from kaisernetwork.org. You can view theentire Kaiser DailyHIV/AIDS Report, search the archives, and sign up for email delivery at kaisernetwork.org/email . TheKaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report is published for kaisernetwork.org, a free service ofThe Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation.

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