HIV medication poses prescribing dilemma in poor countries

The recent discovery that an anti-HIV medication called dolutegravir can cause birth defects among pregnant women poses ethical challenges for doctors and patients in low-resource settings, according to reports.

An April 19, 2019 NPR article examined the dilemma between prescribing patients dolutegravir or giving them an older treatment drug called efavirenz, which is less effective than dolutegravir and may be associated with long-term health risks for the patient but is not associated with risk of birth defects.

Daniel Wikler, Mary B. Saltonstall Professor of Ethics and Population Health at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, said it would indefensible if poor countries developed policies that would give all women the older, less effective drug because they might get pregnant. “That would mean that some women are going to die because they’re at risk for pregnancy,” he said.

Read the NPR article: A Promising Anti-HIV Drug Poses A Dilemma