UNITAID Concerned About Infant HIV Medication Shortage, Drug Company Says Supply Is Sufficient

Bristol-Myers Squibb’s plans this month to close its plant in Meymac, France, that manufactures “the last therapeutic option” for HIV-positive babies has drawn criticism from UNITAID, Reuters reports. In an open letter published in the Lancet (.pdf), UNITAID writes that “[c]losing this factory means that 4,000 to 7,000 babies currently enrolled in treatment plans in developing countries through UNITAID could be left without the medicines they need.”

According to Reuters, “Bristol-Myers spokeswoman Sonia Choi said production [of the medication] is expected to resume immediately upon anticipated regulatory approval of the new U.S. plant in February 2011 … Before closing, she said the company ramped up production of the medicine to create an inventory of the drug equal to twice the demand for the medicine in 2009” (Pierson, 6/7).