December 6, 2023

The Department of Health said the unstable supply of human immunodeficiency virus antiretroviral drugs in treatment facilities could be attributed to unprecedented increase in their use.

In a statement, the DOH said the reported incidents of low stocks of antiretroviral drugs is particularly for tenofovir-lamivudine-dolutegravir (TLD) due to its increased use that happened prior to the targeted full-scale rollout of the transition from their existing regimens.

“In accordance with the Philippine TLD Transition Plan, treatment-naive patients as well as those who developed adverse drug reactions in their current regimens (i.e., efavirenz) were prioritized for transition to TLD in 2020 to 2022,” the agency said.

The community of people living with HIV (PLHIV), the DOH said, became more aware of the promising superiority of TLD over other regimens through word of mouth, social media, learning sessions with support groups and information dissemination by the treatment facilities.

Consequently, there was notable increase in the uptake of TLD across the facilities.

Earlier, the Network Plus Philippines Association Inc. urged the DOH to solve the shortage on the antiretroviral drugs as members of the PLHIV communities in different regions receive one bottle or less when asking for refill of their medications.

Network Plus Philippines Association, Inc. is a community-led mechanism which assures PLHIV nationwide have access to proper treatment and medications.

In responsem the DOH  assured that the current and the incoming antiretroviral stocks would be able to cover all patients until April 2024.

The initial tranche of 58,000 bottles) for fiscal year 2023 DOH-procured TLD is expected to arrive in the country by the end of June and is expected to cover all current patients, estimated new enrollees, and estimated shiftees based on the updated TLD transition plan until the rest of the tranches (Tranche 2: 243,000 bottles by July 2023 and tranche 3: 292,000 bottles by September 2023 are delivered, the DOH said.

A reorder of 25 percent of the total procurement or 146,000 bottles would be facilitated to ensure adequate supply until next year.

DOH also assured the PLHIV communities that it would facilitate early procurement for 2024 to ensure that there would be no gap in the supplies in the facilities. – PNA