The Health Ministry officially withdrew the antiretroviral drug Stavudine from the market on Friday over its alleged dangerous side effects, an official said.
M. Subuh, the ministry’s director for direct contagious disease control, issued a memo to all hospitals currently providing antiretroviral drugs and advised them to replace the drug, which carries the scientific name d4T, with another drug, called Tenofovir.
Aditya Wardhana from the Indonesian AIDS Coalition welcomed the move as a “good step.”
“The Health Ministry has taken steps to save the lives of people living with HIV/AIDS who have consumed the antiretroviral drug dt4, which we know can lead to mid- to long-term dangerous effects for them,” he said.
He added that the coalition had long campaigned for the withdrawal of Stavudine from circulation in the country, arguing that the World Health Organization had long deemed that the drug caused serious side effects because of its highly toxic nature.
Stavudine was phased out by the WHO last year after it was deemed to have life-threatening side effects. It has since been replaced by Tenofovir.
Tenofovir is taken with other medications to control HIV. It helps eliminate HIV-infected cells from the body, improving the functioning of the immune system. It also lowers the risk of complications, such as new infections or cancer.
People living with HIV/AIDS who have taken Stavudine have complained of health problems such as skin irritation, swelling and hormonal disturbances. It has been linked to death in patients.