A new study from GlaxoSmithKline Plc and Johnson & Johnson has found that a long-acting shot to suppress HIV worked as well as a combination of three daily pills. Patients in the trial got injections of two drugs, rilpivirine and cabotegravir, every four or eight weeks, while another group got a combination of daily pills. Paul Stoffels, J&J’s chairman of pharmaceuticals, said;
“Going from many pills a day –like 10, 20 pills a day– to now one pill, to now one injection every two months is I think a huge medical technical achievement.”
There is no cure for HIV, the virus is now subdued with a once-daily pill and a monthly or every-other-month injection could further alter treatment of the disease
There is still work to be done to improve the experimental injection as the drug needs to be refrigerated and requires too great a dose to be given in personally-injected shots at the moment. Stoffels, who started his career as a doctor in Africa focusing on research on HIV and tropical diseases, said:
“I was back in the late ’80s in Africa when the HIV epidemic was in full growth and was devastating.
It’s far too early to say anything about the pricing of this but, as always, I think we have been responsible pricing in this area so that is for later.”
In the trial, patients getting the injection every four weeks had viral suppression rates of 94 percent, and patients dosed every eight weeks had suppression rates of 95 percent. That compared with a rate of 91 percent in patients taking the daily pills.
Five percent of those on the four-week dose stopped taking the drug because of negative side effects. The most common negative side effect reported by patients was pain at the site of the injection. (via Bloomberg)