India runs out of life-saving HIV drug for children, govt apathy to blame
The drug was out of stock in the retail markets as well since Cipla has stopped producing it, the report stated. (Representative image) Photograph: (Reuters)
Cipla, the sole manufacturer of Lopinavir syrup in India, has reportedly stopped the production of the life-saving drug for children with HIV citing delays in payment by the government.
A report in The Hindu says that that stocks of the child-friendly HIV drug ran out after Cipla, its sole manufacturer stopped manufacturing it over the issue of non-payment of dues by the Health Ministry.
Children living with HIV (CLHIV) have written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi for help. A copy of the letter, signed by 637 children ranging between 3 to 19-year-old has been published in The Hindu report.
The letter, excerpts from which have also been produced below, states that "Cipla has repeatedly cited delay in payments by the national programme for the HIV medicines for several years and even non-payment of its dues in many cases."
Children living with HIV (CLHIV) have written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi for help. (Others)
The letter highlights that procurement and supply chain reforms for pharmaceuticals led by the Health Ministry are taking a long time. (Others)
The letter has been signed by 637 children ranging from ages 3 to 19. (Others)
It highlights that "the delayed payments are having a chilling effect on the ability of the National AIDS Control Organisation (NACO) to convince the company to participate in the bids it invited
The letter requests Mr Modi, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley and Health Minister JP Nadda to ensure that "paediatric HIV medicines are not merely exported but also actually available to the children in this country."
Cipla has not stopped participating in government tenders after the Health Ministry failed to pay Cipla for consignments sent in 2014, The Hindu further reported.
The Health Ministry says it has instructed State AIDS Control Societies (SACS) to purchase from local markets by issuing an emergency tender.
However, Paul Lhungdim from the NGO DNP (Delhi Network of Positive People) told The Hindu that since the Cipla, the sole producer, was not manufacturing the drug, it was out of stock in the retail markets as well.
Cipla has declined to comment.
The Hindu report says that emails made available to it reveal that Cipla had asked for payment guarantees from HIV patients.
Experts have criticised the government for failing to fulfil its constitutional responsibility to make available life-saving medicines for the HIV community. They say that Cipla is walking away from its commitment to provide access to medicines for which they are globally renowned.