Buenos Aires, July 6 2018.  In a context of economic crisis of magnitude that Argentina is facing there are stockouts of essential medicines. According to key informants, the shortage of medicines is due to the lack of public purchases. While the authorities of the Ministry of Health delay the provision of official information there are disruptions in HIV and Hep C treatments. 

In Argentina there are 122,000 people with HIV; 69,200 are under treatment, 70% of those -46,518- receive their medicines through the public provision program of the National Ministry of Health. 

Since January 2016 there have been shortages and fractionation in the delivery of antiretroviral drugs in the country. The complaints were made by organizations of people with HIV who were detecting problems at the levels of the health centers.

The situation continue to worsened and in January 2018 news about delays in the processing of public purchases became public and notorious. Before the request of official information, the Head of the National AIDS Program informed to national media that the administrative files awaited the issuance of payments. Two of the most important newspapers in Argentina published the story (See La Nación, and Clarin). 

According to a report GEP received from the Ministry of Health in January 2018, only four ARVs -out of 42 that are included in the national vademecum of medicines- were bought in 2017. 

We are concerned about the Ministry of Health not being able to sustain procurement of medicines. The lives of thousands of people in Argentina depends on the public system. The economical crisis in Argentina should not be an excuse for failing people”, expressed Lorena Di Giano, Executive Director of Fundación Grupo Efecto Positivo.

In 2018, although there has been purchase orders processed for 15 ARV´s and DAA in two public tenders, the same are still pending of payment key informants unofficially unveiled. The delivery and distribution of ARVs is stalled jeopardizing access to treatments. 

One of the regimens that for the last two years was bought through the PAHO Strategic Fundis TDF + EFV + FTC. More than 10,000 people are under treatment with this combination.  There is an ongoing process for the acquisition of the combination that is facing undue delays putting at risk the procurement of the medicines for the next incoming months. No official information about the process of this purchase has been released. Ministry of Health sources informed GEP that the purchase would be blocked due to lack of available financing to make it effective.

Fundación GEP is monitoring these public purchases, as part of its strategy to improve access, main goal of Access to Medicines Program. On 12 July 2018 Fundación GEP will hold Seminary with the objective to release its 4 years of implementation report, that addresses the strategies GEP has been implemented to mitigate the impact of intellectual property on ARVs and Hep C medicines. Since 2012 GEP has been filing pre-grant patent oppositions before INPI (National Institute of Industrial Property) having achieved more than us$ 160 millions in saving in the public purchase of ARVs and Hepatitis C medicines.

In this scenario, if the situation regarding HIV and HepC medicines public purchases remains the same, stockouts are most likely to continue throughout the year.

GEP is a civil society organization founded and lead by people with HIV and Hepatitis C who work for the improvement of the quality of life of affected communities.

Contact: lorenadigiano@gmail.com

For more information: www.fgep.org