Children with HIV (CLHIV) have written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi after pharmaceutical company Cipla stopped supplies of HIV drugs to India over non-payments by the government.
A report in The Hindu says that the letter, written on March 4, was signed by 637 children between 3 and 19 years of age. The letter says that “Cipla has in various forums cited delay in payments by the national programme for the HIV medicines by several years and even non-payment of its dues in many cases.”
It reportedly goes on to say that profits earned from child-doses of HIV drugs are small and that they are having a “chilling” effect on the ability of the National Aids Control Organisation (NACO) to invite the pharma major for annual bids.
Hindu says that stocks of Lopinavir syrup (an HIV drug that is child-friendly) were over after Cipla stopped manufacturing it over non-payments by the health ministry. The pharma company is the sole-manufacturer of the drug. The report adds that Cipla still participates in government tenders however, even though the government hadn’t paid for their consignments for the year 2014.
Cipla did not respond to the newspaper but the report accesses emails from Cipla’s staff who were demanding payments from the HIV patients. “We can neither force the government nor donors like the Global Fund. But at the end of the day, we are the ones who are hit by these shortages and stock-outs,” patient-activist Loon Gangte told the newspaper.
The initiative by the children in the form of a letter is a final plea for help.
India had around 30 lakh people who are living with HIV.
A report in Wire says the number of deaths due to the deadly disease in India was 1.3 lakh (ranging from 1.24 lakh to 1.38 lakh) and the percentage of patients receiving antiretroviral therapy (ART) treatment stood at 25.82% as against the global percentage of 41%, said the report quoting a study in Lancet. However, the Indian government’s official figures put the number of people living with HIV as 21.17 lakh and the number of new infections at 86,000 in 2015.