India battles HIV/AIDS drug shortage as some firms halt supply

By Zeba Siddiqui MUMBAI (Reuters) – India is facing a shortage of HIV/AIDS drugs provided under the government’s free medicine program after some drugmakers halted supplies due to delayed payments, leaving thousands of patients without treatment, activists said. India’s National AIDS Control Organization (NACO), a unit of the healthcare ministry, procures antiretroviral drugs for treating HIV/AIDS from companies through a tender process and supplies the drugs to healthcare providers across the country. Some drugmakers stopped participating in the government’s tender process over the past year because of delays in getting paid, creating a shortage, said Leena Menghaney, an activist with the medical charity Medicins Sans Frontieres (MSF). India had the third-largest number of people living with HIV in the world at the end of 2013 and accounts for about four out of 10 people living with HIV in the Asian region, according to the U.N. AIDS program UNAIDS.
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