MSF taking all measures to ensure treatment and medical follow up for patients On Sept. 5 and 7, Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) projects in Kenya detected quality problems with one antiretroviral medicine named Zidolam-N used to treat people with HIV. MSF nurses reported irregularities in the appearance of the product such as the tendency to break apart as well as discoloration of the tablets. Last week, these drugs were confirmed to be falsified versions of World Health Organization (WHO) quality-assured (‘prequalified’) drugs that were purchased via a distributor certified by the Kenya Pharmacy and Poisons Board. These antiretrovirals contain lamivudine (150 milligrams), zidovudine (300 milligrams) and nevirapine (200 milligrams).

Malawi © Ken Tong/MSF
An MSF patient in a health facility in Malawi in 2010 shows its antiretrovirals. “MSF takes this supply lapse seriously and is focused on ensuring that patients are informed and receive appropriate medical follow up,” says Alexandra Vandenbulcke, a doctor and MSF medical coordinator in Kenya. As soon as the quality alerts were reported by the MSF nurses, MSF informed the Kenyan Ministry of Health, WHO and other international partners involved in the procurement of medicines. MSF put the drugs under quarantine and the falsified batches were sent back to the supplier. MSF has started to trace and notify patients who have received the falsified products, and has secured adequate replacement drugs for affected patients. MSF will offer adapted medical follow-up to these patients and optimize treatment options when necessary. MSF places great importance on the quality of the drugs used in its projects, using WHO-prequalified antiretrovirals. MSF is demanding a full investigation into the circumstances of this supply lapse to ensure the best quality of medicines for patients.

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