Daily Dispatch

Switching drugs poses risk


WHEN a patient is forced to stop taking a specific antiretrov­iral (ARV) or changes to a different type, they are in danger of developing a resistance to the original drug.

This is according to the Treatment Action Campaign spokesman Mark Heywood who was speaking to the Daily Dispatch about the reported shortage of ARVS in the Eastern Cape.

“It basically means you have fewer treatment options even if you swap medication for a short time,” he said.

Heywood said a patient’s life was not in any immediate danger but their bodies would develop a resistance.

“People are being put on inferior drugs which means when the shortage is over, there is a strong possibilit­y the better drugs will not work anymore,” he said.

The spokesman said changing drugs was a complicate­d issue for both the medical staff and patients.

“The side effects are different, tests need to be done and it sends out the wrong message about being consistent when taking your medication,” he said.

South Africa’s ARV guidelines state tenofovir (TDF) is the first and second line of treatment for adolescent­s and adults while abacavir (ABC) is listed as the first and second line for infants and children.

The two drugs are allegedly in short supply across South Africa.

“TDF and ABC are the first and second line of defence and by taking a replacemen­t you basically make them null and void,” Heywood said.

In a statement, the Rural Doctors’ Associatio­n said to switch to a different drug required a viral-load test on the patient, but the turnaround time for this in rural areas was too long, resulting in complicati­ons with substituti­ng treatments.

“Substituti­ng blindly for TDF means some patients may develop resistance when they go back to their original drug,” the group said. — Michael Kimberley

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from South Africa