NGO warns africa against single-dose use of nevirapine
The Italian nongovernmental organization Community of Sant'Egidio yesterday warned African countries to stop administering single doses of the anti-AIDS drug Nevirapine, which reduces the risk of newborn babies contracting HIV from their mothers, because such usage left too many babies born with HIV, did not extend the lives of their mothers and was contributing to resistance to other antiretrovirals.
Sant'Egidio spokesman Mario Marazziti urged that instead, pregnant mothers be given triple therapy with Nevirapine as part of a drug cocktail months before giving birth. According to the organization's projects in neighboring Mozambique, this practice reduced the risk of drug resistance and left 97 percent of newborns free of the virus.
Nevirapine "has no future in Africa," Marazziti told a press conference in Johannesburg.
Nevirapine, which in poor countries is administered as a single dose to mothers during labor and to newborns within the first 72 hours of birth, is given free to state hospitals in developing countries by its manufacturer, Boehringer Ingelheim.
Calls to phase out Nevirapine were met with skepticism in South Africa, however, where 250,000 pregnant women a year are HIV-positive, and health experts say the country cannot afford the infrastructure to put all HIV-positive expectant mothers on triple therapy. Three months' worth of such a cocktail would cost about $181 (Rory Carroll, London Guardian, March 17).