After Malta’s national HIV pills abruptly dried up, Malta’s HIV patients were left to crowdsource their crucial medicine. This week, stock has arrived, but those concerned are still looking for answers.
“I’ve got two weeks worth of medication now, even though my prescription says I should have two months. This isn’t over, we still need to fix the circumstances that led to this happening,” Dan*, an HIV patient told Lovin Malta.
His prescription requires him to take an outdated cocktail of six pills a day, without fail. Since the arrival of HIV medicine this week, he’s been provided two month supply of Raltegravir and 14 day supply of Kivexa.
According to him, he’s been left without medicine twice this year. And while he is relieved to see his pills back in stock, he says the fight for HIV patients isn’t over.
“We deserve to see urgent reforms to prevent another situation like this, including better communication with patients by the HIV clinic and emergency stock.”
“Everything is still in the dark. We haven’t been contacted by medical staff or given any updates. It’s no point in saying there’s an investment if we’re not giving the finer details of the government’s plan. It’s not over just because we’ve got a few weeks worth of medicine – things must change.”
“I just want to make sure that this never happens to everyone every again. We’ve literally had to fight for our lives,” he said.
The Health Ministry said the shortage was rooted in the UK’s withdrawal from the European Union, resulting in medicine stockpiling and severe cargo delays. A €3 million investment in the latest HIV treatment on the market is also expected to hit the local market in the new year.
Contrastingly, an EU official said the bloc didn’t have any shortage of pharmaceutical products and that Malta hadn’t reached out for assistance on the matter.
HIV activist and lawyer Mark Josef Rapa warned that the government must no longer leave patients without answers.
“Can the government confirm and guarantee that it is going to make available enough medication during the transition period? Will the Ministry for Health tell us where we can find the transition agreement it has negotiated with agents and how this transition is going to play out?”
“Patients have a right to know what is the hierarchy for treatment changeover and which pharmacies they will be able to pick up their medication from,” he said.
HIV Malta continued that those affected need to start speaking up.
“The HIV+ community has got to start speaking up and start speaking together. Do not wait for someone else to speak to us and hope for the best.”
“You need to find the courage to speak up for your rights yourself. Although this is a life-saving medication, you have a right to treatment, just like any other patient receiving treatment for any other condition in Malta,” it said.
*Names have been changed for the sake of anonymity
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