News 24, More research on nevirapine12 August 2004

Johannesburg - Further research was needed on the reported resistance to the antiretroviral drug nevirapine, used to prevent mother-to-child transmission of HIV/Aids, said the health ministry on Thursday.

"It was agreed there was a need for further research on the subject, validation and a scientific peer review of the research," said ministerial spokesperson Sibani Mngadi after a workshop held in Johannesburg to discuss the reports of resistance to the drug when used as a monotherapy.

"It was also agreed to improve the co-ordination of research and clinical trials between the department of health, researchers and other relevant institutions such as the Medical Research Council and the Medicines Control Council."

The workshop was attended by Health Minister Manto Tshabalala-Msimang, health MECs and experts from the MCC, MRC, the Essential Drug List Committee, the perinatal HIV research unit and the National Institute for Communicable diseases.

Convened to share information

The manufacturers of nevirapine also gave a presentation to the workshop.

Tshabalala-Msimang pointed out from the start of the workshop that the aim was not to review the government's programme to reduce the risk of mother-to-child transmission of HIV.

The workshop was convened to share information and to look at the results of investigations into resistance to the use of nevirapine in such cases, after a warning by the MCC last month of resistance.

The MCC recommended a combination of antiretrovirals be used instead of a single dose of nevirapine for the prevention of mother-to-child transmission.

The minister and MECs (Minmec) decided that the structures which advised her on scientific matters should study the information provided at the workshop, do more research and make recommendations to her.

Will still provide nevirapine

"These recommendations should seek to meet the primary objective of the programme to reduce the risk of mother-to-child transmission, which is to have healthy babies who are HIV-negative at 24 months."

These recommendations would then be discussed and decisions taken.

The department would still provide nevirapine until a new approach had been decided upon, Mngadi said.

Edited by Elmarie Jack




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