Africans overdosing on HIV/AIDs drug

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More than 20 percent of Africans on a first line anti-retroviral drug, Efavirenz, to manage HIV and AIDs might be taking an overdose according to a local scientist in Zimbabwe, Professor Collen Masimirembwa, reports the Herald.

“Over 20 percent of patients in Zimbabwe and in Africa for that matter, are overdosed when they are being given the current standard dose.” Said the scientist

He further said that the genetic make-up of African people has a low capacity in removing the drug from their body if it is given at the standard dosage. However, Caucasians can quickly break down the drug (Efavirenz) in their body faster than Africans.

With the drug remaining in high residues in Africans, it causes more side effects which include diarrhoea, skin rash, nausea, dizziness, lack of concentration, headache, fatigue, vomiting and anorexia among others.

Professor Masimirembwa solution is a genetic test that ensures the dose of the drug match the African genetic make up to reduce the side effects, creating safe treatment for many. The Professor said that will solve the high numbers of people dealing with the side effects.

African Institute of Biomedical Science and Technology (AiBST) has partnered with the government of Zimbabwe to set up a research facility that will assess the safety and effectiveness of the medicines coming into Africa and in Africa before introducing them into the market.

“There is clear evidence that the difference in the genetic make-up can effect a number of drugs, but not all drugs, that is why this project is extremely important.” Said the Professor

The clinical trial unit has called on pharmaceutical companies to work with it so that to ensure their products are safe and effective for the African population. Zimbabwe local pharmaceutical companies have been sending samples to India and Germany for the safety assessment.