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Global Shortages of Sustiva and Zerit Are Likely

Global Shortages of Sustiva and Zerit Are Likely


A spike in global demand for two key HIV antiretroviral medications could soon outpace production capabilities and lead to potentially long-term shortages, pharmaceutical officials say. Increasing demand for Bristol-Myers Squibb's Zerit and Merck's Stocrin (marketed in the United States by BMS as Sustiva), could result in shortages in the near future, particularly in developing countries. Drug shortages could lead some treatment programs in poor nations to focus treatment on those currently taking antiretroviral medications, and force new program participants to use other anti-HIV medications or to be placed on waiting lists for drug access. Officials at BMS and Merck say the expected length of the anticipated shortages is unknown because of constantly rising demand for the medications. The boom in demand for the drugs is largely atttributed to large-scale purchases of the medications through the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, as well as bulk buys by groups funded for overseas HIV treatment efforts through the U.S. President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief. Demand also was fueled when two generic equivalents were pulled from the global market after the World Health Organization rescinded its approval of the cheaper drugs.

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