Global campaigns towards local manufacture of anti-HIV/AIDS drugs in continuous flow systems
Drug shortage and inaccessibility, stemming from exorbitant pharmaceutical drug prices, is only but a fraction of the many factors affecting global health. Most recently, the world was reminded of the role of pandemics in fast tracking the above-mentioned problem. A potentially sustainable solution would entail establishing cost effective and efficient local drug manufacture capacity in different regions. Using the HIV/AIDS epidemic as a case example, efforts by various research groups towards this goal are presented herein.
Approximately 41 years ago, in Los Angeles California, between the period of October 1980 and May 1981, five young previously healthy gay men were treated for pneumocystis carinii and were reported to all have had laboratory-confirmed previous and current cytomegalovirus infection and candida mucosal infections at the time. According to the symptoms that the patients presented, health experts suggested a possibility of a cellular-immune dysfunction related to a common exposure that predisposes individuals to opportunistic infections such as these (1). This cellular-immune dysfunction later came to be known as Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS) caused by the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) of the family Lentiviridae. By 1985, clinical trials were underway for azidothymidine (AZT) (2) and in 1987, the US Food and Drug Administration approved AZT, a nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitor (NRTI), for anti-retroviral treatment of HIV/AIDS (3, 4). Unfortunately, it was found that a combination of drugs was needed for treatment of HIV/AIDS (5). This gave rise to a two-NRTI drug therapy comprising of AZT and zalcitabine or dideoxycytidi ...