The head of an organisation for people living with HIV in Kenya has accused the government of putting people’s lives at risk after it distributed HIV drugs that had been discontinued.
Nelson Otuoma said some patients had exhibited unexpected side effects after taking the drugs.
The 24,000 packs were part of old stock donated by the Global Fund and the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (Pepfar).
They were distributed to 31 towns across the country amid a shortage of HIV drugs.
The drugs are a combined dosage of Zidovudine, Lamivudine and Nevirapine – which were discontinued in 2019.
Nevirapine is usually given as a single drug or as part of a three-drug fixed-dose combination.
Its common side effects include abdominal pain, rash, fatigue, headache and muscle pain, which lasts for a month.
It has also been associated with liver damage in some people. Many countries are opting not to use it.
The World Heath Organization (WHO) has said that Nevirapine-based treatment recorded an unacceptably high failure rate and had to be changed.
Mr Otuoma said that the government had told activists they had destroyed the drugs that they then went on to distribute last week:
“Why is the government playing with people’s lives? We have told them so many times that these drugs are not working because of the side effects that they are associated with,” Mr Otuoma said.
“We are surprised that these drugs were still at the warehouse for months. They told us that they had already been destroyed,” He added.
The BBC asked the health ministry for comment but they have not replied.