Indonesia seeks to reassure HIV patients over drug supplies

Should the upcoming tender fail to be met by April, the health ministry had secured an additional 560,000 bottles of the separate TLE pills from the fund. (File/AFP)
Updated 13 January 2019
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Indonesia seeks to reassure HIV patients over drug supplies

  • More than 300,000 patients in Indonesia relied on ARV doses last year
  • Should the upcoming tender fail to be met by April, the health ministry had secured an additional 560,000 bottles of the separate TLE pills from the fund

JAKARTA: Indonesia’s health ministry has sought to reassure HIV patients that sufficient antiretroviral (ARV) drugs will be available for their treatment after some hospitals had run out of supplies.
At least 29 hospitals and health centers in Indonesia had exhausted their stocks of a particular type of ARV, known as a fixed-dose combination of Tenofovir, Lamivudin and Efavirens (TLE), Aditya Wardhana of the Indonesia AIDS Coalition, a non-governmental organization, told a news conference.
The health ministry confirmed that a tender to procure some ARV drugs last year had failed, but said it had imported some of the TLE through The Global Fund, an international financing organization to fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria.
Still, the Indonesia AIDS Coalition called for more emergency purchases via the fund, and urged President Joko Widodo to intervene.
More than 300,000 patients in Indonesia relied on ARV doses last year, according to Health Ministry data.
Engko Sosialine Magdalene, director general of pharmaceutical and medical devices at the ministry, said the country has enough fixed-dose ARV to last until May.
“A tender will start next month, so it will not impact our stocks,” Magdalene said on Saturday.
She said in the meantime patients unable to obtain the drug could use pills containing similar ingredients and there was sufficient stock until December.
Should the upcoming tender fail to be met by April, the health ministry had secured an additional 560,000 bottles of the separate TLE pills from the fund, Magdalene said.
Some patients, however, are concerned about potentially changing their medication. “Clearly we are terrified,” HIV patient Baby Rivona Nasution, told the news conference hosted by the Indonesia AIDS Coalition. She has been using ARV medication for the past decade
“Will I still be alive or not by the end of the year?“
Wardhana of the Indonesia AIDS Coalition said the issue of obtaining the drugs distributed in the country by pharmaceutical companies Kimia Farma and Indofarma Global Medika may be due to high prices.
According to Magdalene, procurement regulations meant the ministry “could not access with such prices.” She did not elaborate.
Honesti Basyir, Kimia Farma president director, declined to comment on prices but said efforts must be made to reduce Indonesia’s reliance on costly imported raw materials for drugs.
Indofarma Global Medika could not be reached for comment.


Venezuela accuses US of trying to engineer coup

Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro gestures while he arrives for a special session of the National Constituent Assembly to present his annual state of the nation in Caracas, Venezuela January 14, 2019. (REUTERS)
Updated 11 min 38 sec ago
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Venezuela accuses US of trying to engineer coup

  • Venezuela’s Communications Minister Jorge Rodriguez accused Pence of having ordered “terrorists” to carry out acts of violence during Wednesday’s protest

CARACAS: Venezuela’s vice president on Tuesday accused her US counterpart of “openly calling for a coup d’etat” ahead of a mass street protest announced by the opposition for Wednesday.
“Yankee go home! We won’t let them interfere in the affairs of the homeland,” Delcy Rodriguez said in televised remarks.
Her comments came in reaction to American Vice President Mike Pence, who had earlier posted a video on Twitter in which he branded Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro “a dictator with no legitimate claim to power.”
“As the good people of Venezuela make your voices heard tomorrow, on behalf of the American people, we say: estamos con ustedes. We are with you,” Pence tweeted.
Venezuela’s Communications Minister Jorge Rodriguez accused Pence of having ordered “terrorists” to carry out acts of violence during Wednesday’s protest.
The row came 24 hours after a group of soldiers rose up against Maduro at a command post in the north of Caracas and published a video on social media calling for the public to come out and support them.
They surrendered after the command post was surrounded by police and military units, with 27 people arrested.
But their voices were heard, according to the non-governmental Social Conflict Observatory, which said on Tuesday that anti-Maduro protests were recorded in at least 30 different locations around the capital.
Jorge Rodriguez said the mutinous soldiers had confessed to handing out some of the weapons they stole on Monday from a command depot to opposition activists “so they can carry out acts of violence, (cause) injuries and deaths during the protest.”
And he said they did so as they were following Pence’s orders.
Most of the protests took place in socially disadvantaged areas and some involved the blocking of streets and burning of garbage.
Police used tear gas to disperse some of the crowds, including in the northern Cotiza neighborhood where the group of soldiers made their stand.
The unrest, which lasted in some places until Tuesday morning, was a small taste of what may come on Wednesday when protesters are set to mobilize behind National Assembly president Juan Guaido.
The opposition deputy has branded Maduro a “usurper” and wants to establish a transitional government leading to elections.

The smell of pepper spray lingered in the air on Tuesday following clashes between protesters and law enforcement in the northern Los Mecedores neighborhood.
“Maduro out! That’s what the people were shouting. It was awful,” 60-year-old Dinora de Longa told AFP.
“The police were shooting and there was tear gas everywhere. I had to put my grandchildren in the bathroom. This won’t solve anything.”
One protest, in which people pelted cars with stones, took place on the motorway linking Caracas to the neighboring port of La Guaira, where the capital’s airport is located.
The anti-Maduro movement has gained traction since the former bus driver was sworn in for a second term as president on January 10.
Maduro won highly controversial elections in May that were boycotted by the opposition and dismissed as a fraud by the European Union, United States and Organization of American States.
The opposition accuses Maduro of running an authoritarian regime and acting unconstitutionally.
In 2016 he lost control of the National Assembly, enabling the opposition to challenge his leadership, but the loyalist-dominated Supreme Court stripped the legislature of its powers in 2017.
The National Assembly has been powerless since then but Guaido, who became president of the body earlier this month, has risen to the challenge of taking on Maduro’s iron grip on power.

Wednesday’s protest date of January 23 is significant because it marks 61 years since the fall of Marcos Perez Jimenez’s dictatorship.
The regime has responded by announcing its own demonstration in support of Maduro.
It will be the first major street movement since 125 people were killed during civil unrest between April and July 2017.
Venezuela is suffering the worst economic crisis in its modern history with poverty rising and the country gripped by four years of recession.
Basic necessities such as food and medicine have been in short supply, while spiraling inflation — predicted to reach a mind-boggling 10 million percent this year — has crippled the currency.
The crisis was sparked by a fall in the global oil price in 2014, a commodity Venezuela is almost entirely reliant upon.
Its crude production has dropped to barely a third of its level a decade ago.