Kenya to drop use of ‘risky’ ARV drug

George Kebaso @Morarak

Kenya has no option but to withdraw an antiretroviral therapy drug, dolutegravir (DTG) and pending the World Health Organisation (WHO) advice on its use.

Experts have warned that if results obtained from a study in Botswana apply across the continent, the use of the first line drug by pregnant women would have to be thoroughly assessed because of its side effects.

The study on the side effects of DTG showed that HIV-positive women who used the drug gave birth to children with spinal chord deformities.

Yesterday, Dr Eleni Akilillu, a senior researcher at the Department of Laboratory Medicine at Karolinska Institutet and Scientific Coordinator of a new drug surveillance project in Kenya, said WHO is awaiting a report on the ongoing assessment on the generic drug before it allows its use.

“It is advisable that Kenya holds on to the alert issued, revise the policy on the use of the drug first before moving to use it,” she said. In July, Kenya, the first country in Africa to start using DTG, was advised to use it but with restrictions.

The Health ministry consequently told county health directors to ensure that pregnant and breastfeeding mothers to whomDTG had been prescribed, to continue their prescription until they stop breastfeeding.

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