New HIV, TB drugs cause major side effects to patients

New HIV, TB drugs cause major side effects to patients

Openend bottle of prescription pills (courtesy photo)

New HIV drug dolutegravir and a range of drugs against tuberculosis were among the most reported drugs to have caused patients serious side effects in the past year.

In an interview with URN, Dr. Hellen Ndagije Byomire, Director of Product Safety at the National Drug Authority  (NDA) said they received a total of 2,600 complaints at their drug adverse reactions desk where HIV drugs, Isonaizid for tuberculosis, and the antibiotic drug ceftriaxone topped the number of complaints recorded.
 
Ndagije said for long they had been relying on health workers for reports on what side effects patients were reporting to them regarding medicines but recently they started an initiative to hear from the patients directly to quickly inform their interventions for safety and that they have received more than triple the complaints they were initially receiving. 

Experts says reporting drug reactions is crucial in preventing medicine-related adverse effects, promoting patient safety and the rational use of medicines. 

Here, when a drug is flagged for having a lot of serious side effects, Ndagije says they not only get back to the manufacturer but also send an alert to health facilities to beware of the drug so that they prescribe with caution.

For the case of dolutegravir which is a fairly new one pill a day regimen and people living with HIV are still being transferred to it from older medication, the most reported side effect was high blood sugar, technically described as hyperglycemia.

 Other patients on these drugs reported insomnia, weight gain and reduced libido.

As NDA is doing this, the World Health Organization recently issued new guidelines to help countries in detecting and reporting adverse drug reactions in which they set the minimum requirements for any country to run a functional drug-adverse-reactions reporting system. 

In addition to asking health workers to always record patient complaints using a practical manual that helps them assess how to categorize a specific problem, they recommend to countries to invest in awareness programmes so that patients can know what to expect before using any specific medication.

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