ZIMBABWEANS are abusing an antiretroviral drug, Tenolam Efavirenz (Tenolam E) to get high which has forced health workers to tightly monitor the collection routine of these pills, HealthTimes has learnt.
By Kudakwashe Pembere
The drug mixture is called Nyaope or Whoonga in South Africa and is a blend of HIV medications, Heroin, and rat poison.
Speaking at the International Drug Abuse Day Commemorations in Mabvuku organized by an antidrug abuse startup Evaluate My Future, Mabvuku Satellite Clinic Acting Sister-In-Charge Sister Gillian Tavhanya said they learnt this rampant abuse after observing the unmethodical collection of ARVs. She said people are abusing ARVs to get high.
“We learnt at a meeting after noticing the frequency of ARV collection by people living with HIV. Some were making it a habit, like a supermarket coming to our health facilities to do shopping of these pills. For example one would come at Mabvuku Poly and tell us that they lost their book and get the medication and then go to other clinics with another excuse saying the pills were stolen,” she said adding that this raised eyebrows.
She said the abuse of ARVs has forced them to be more stringent on the collection frequency.
“ARVs are medication for people living with HIV. And what we have observed is the abuse of Telonum Efavirenz. What happens is that people are taking it in high doses. Efavirenz causes drowsiness when taken so when taken in high doses people want to be in a state being ‘blitzed’,” said Sister Tavhanya.
Sister Tavhanya also said the people haphazardly collecting the ARVs are selling them to those that want to get drunk.
“We are now very strict with these people because we noticed that the people come claiming they lost the tablets yet they are selling to people who are abusing these tablets to be stoned,” she noted.
The clinics were the ARVs are being collected have put in place measures to ensure this unsystemactic collection of medication is controlled.
“We are now more strict with the ARVs asking those using them to present a hospital card with details of where they are coming from. We also look at the review date of the person and counting the number of tablets they should use,” said Sister Tavhanya.
A 2013 study found that the Efavirenz has lysergic acid diethylamine (LSD) effects.
“Anecdotal reports have surfaced concerning misuse of the HIV antiretroviral medication efavirenz ((4S)-6-chloro-4-(2-cyclopropylethynyl)-4-(trifluoromethyl)-2,4-dihydro-1H-3,1-benzoxazin-2-one) by HIV patients and non-infected teens who crush the pills and smoke the powder for its psychoactive effects. Molecular profiling of the receptor pharmacology of efavirenz pinpointed interactions with multiple established sites of action for other known drugs of abuse including catecholamine and indolamine transporters, and GABAA and 5-HT2A receptors. In rodents, interaction with the 5-HT2A receptor, a primary site of action of lysergic acid diethylamine (LSD), appears to dominate efavirenz’s behavioral profile,” read part of the study.
She also said they have had cases of people misusing medicines containing codeine such as Bronco as well as marijuana.
Detective Constable Simeon Sandati from ZRP CID Drug Unit urged the youth to desist misuing dangerous drugs and medications that are not registered with the Medicines Control Authority of Zimbabwe (MCAZ). He said there are libido enhancement being used by males infiltrating into the country along with butt enhancers used by females.
Meanwhile in Dzivaresekwa commemorating the World No Tobacco Day and International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit trafficking, Health and Child Care Minister Dr Obadiah Moyo pleaded Zimbabweans to avoid tobacco smoking.
“As we mark this year’s World No Tobacco Day combined with the International Day Against Drug Abuse we are appealing to young people to make a pledge to walk away from substances of abuse. We encourage all of us to avoid to tobacco use so as preserve our lung health and live long healthy lives. We appeal to those who continue to from to protect non smokers from second hand smoke,” he said.
He also said global studies have found that alcohol alone causes over 200 diseases while Tobacco kills over 50percent of its users mostly from lung related disorders such as lung cancer, emphysema and chronic obstructive airways disease.
“Smoking shortens life span by at least 10 years. Second hand smoke significantly affects nonsmokers as well and kills 1.2 million people a year, 65 000 of them being children,” said Dr Moyo.