More than 70% of Panamanians with HIV using raltegravir (Isentress), the combination of zidovudine and lamivudine (Combivir) and emtricitabine + tenofovir (Truvada) have been affected due to the shortage of these medications in the past fifteen months.
During the first days of August, members of Observatorio Ciudadano en Derechos Humanos y VIH in Panama met to discuss the problem that is currently affecting many Panamanian lives.
Since the beginning of 2013, respective requests for medications such as raltegravir (Isentress) and zidovudine + lamivudine (Combivir) were made. Purchases were awarded in March of that same year. However, to date, almost year and a half later, drugs do not have been delivered due to the policies of the Ministry of health that stated that is not possible to make new request if there is any pending delivery.
According to Dr. Aurelio Núñez, the Ministry of health negotiated a loan from the Social Security Fund of certain amount of Isentress and Combivir with which they have been able to meet a small group of people with HIV. However, a significant amount of these loans is aimed at pregnant women, which leaves without drugs to a number of people.
On the other hand, the problems of shortages have also reached other drugs, such as Ritonavir and Truvada. According to statements of the Doctor Núñez, Stendhal, the company responsible for the provision of these drugs, has not issued any other orders due to problems in the presentation of documents.
Wednesday, August 27, Rafael Pitti of the national program for STI/HIV/AIDS, reported that the first week of September they will receive an advance of raltegravir, zidovudine + lamivudine and darunavir. On the other hand, Panamanians are still awaiting the so-called official resolution by the Ministry of health to provide emtricitabina+tenofovir and ritonavir. This resolution will help with the respective procedures of the delivery of medications.
As a way to pressure, if in the coming days this problem is still not solved, members of Observatorio Ciudadano en Derechos Humanos y VIH in Panama, along with the support of the Office of the Ombudsman will called a press conference to publicly demand an immediate, concrete and definitive response by the Ministry of health regarding this issue, which puts at risk the lives of more than 4,500 Panamanians.