Within a week the “revolutionary” new HIV drug dolutegravir has gone from panacea to pariah. Recent data from a Botswana study linking the drug to birth defects has seen the highest international health bodies issuing public warnings.

On May 18 the World Health Organisation, European Medicines Agency and the United-States’ Food and Drug Administration unanimously issued warning statements about a possible link between the anti-HIV drug dolutegravir and birth defects, sparking a wave of international media reports and panic.

Dolutegravir is not just a new HIV drug. It has been described as a breakthrough weapon in the global fight against HIV. Its low cost and comparatively mild side-effect profile have made it an attractive option for treatment programmes, especially in developing countries where savings on drugs can make it possible for significantly more people to be treated. …..more