Paidamoyo Chipunza Senior Health Reporter
Government has assured People Living with HIV and Aids (PLWHA) of the safety and effectiveness of all antiretroviral drugs (ARVs) being dispensed in public health institutions. This followed fears and concerns by some PLWHA that a batch of ARVs whose shelf life was extended by six months following their initial expiration in June 2018, were causing side effects.
Director of Aids and TB Unit in the Ministry of Health and Child Care Dr Owen Mugurungi said Government was given the nod to dispense the ARVs for an additional six months by the Medicines Control Authority of Zimbabwe (MCAZ) following successful safety and effectiveness tests.
“It is common practice that when any medicine expires, the first step is to consult with MCAZ for safety and effectiveness beyond the expiration date. This is what we did with this particular batch resulting in extension of their shelf life for the next six months.
“Most medicines can actually go beyond the stated expiration date and what we did was common practice anywhere in the world,” said Dr Mugurungi. In fact in other countries with resources, they then repackage the medicines to reflect the new expiration date,” he said.
He however, said in this case, pharmacists were then supposed to explain to all clients upon dispensing the medicine that it was safe and still effective for six more months.
Dr Mugurungi said it was illogical to destroy the medicines when they had been proved safe.
MCAZ projects and public relations officer Mr Shingai Gwatidzo confirmed that the MCAZ gave an approval to certain expired ARVs to be used for the next six months. “The products that were granted an extension of shelf life were Tenofovir Disoproxil Fumarate/Lamivudine 300mg/300mg Batch Numbers E161588, E161587 & E161290A, 3056128, 3056129, 3056130, 3056131, 3056164, 3056165, 3056166, 3056167 and 3056168. It is important for people to note that it was not a blanket approval of all expired ARVs!,” said Mr Gwatidzo.