Last December, questions were raised about a study done in Uganda on the aids drug Nevirapine. Critics said the study was flawed and did not confirm the safety or efficacy of the drug, which is used to prevent mother to child transmission of HIV. It’s been widely used in Africa because it is cheap and easy to administer.
Now comes word that a review of the study by the US based Institute of Medicine, the IOM, confirms the findings of the original study. In commenting on the study the IOM uses the words “reasonable, appropriate and scientifically sound.”
Among those reacting to the latest news is Mark Isaac, vice-president of the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation. He spoke to English to Africa reporter Joe De Capua and said, “This is a detailed and definitive affirmation that should allow us to put to rest once and for all any lingering concerns about the safety and efficacy of Nevirapine. Instead, we can focus our energy on the real issue, which is saving the lives of women and children in the developing world.”
He adds, “As the leading provider of services to prevent mother-to-child transmission of HIV in the world our plan is to move full speed ahead with providing a range of drug therapy options, including single-dose Nevirapine to pregnant mothers in the developing world. And we would urge all other providers to follow suit.”
Questions were raised about the 1997 study, known as HIVNET 012, regarding record keeping. The Foundation estimates more than one million women have benefited from the drug, which reduces the rate of transmission of HIV from mother to child by 50 percent.