Gilead HIV Pill Seen to Lower new Infections
An antiviral pill taken daily by thousands of HIV-positive men in Australia has led to a “globally unprecedented” reduction in new infections, according to what is being called “the world’s first study to measure the impact of Gilead’s new pill Truvada pill on reducing the instance of the AIDS-inducing virus in a large population.
According to a report published in the Lancet HIV medical journal, new cases of HIV among gay and bisexual men in Australia using the drug fell by almost a third to the “lowest on record.” This, the research publication said, shows that a targeted, preventative approach may accelerate progress on ending the AIDS epidemic and pave the way for other states and countries to stop transmission of the virus.
Truvada is used in a treatment called pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP). While the study’s results cannot be generalized to indicate similar efficacy in heterosexual populations, they do demonstrate that PrEP is “highly cost-effective” in certain high-risk groups, Andrew Grulich, head of HIV epidemiology and prevention at the Kirby Institute of the University of New South Wales, told a pharmaceutical trade journal.
“The speed of the decline we’ve seen in new HIV infections in gay and bisexual men is a world first,” the study leader said, adding that the numbers are the lowest on record since HIV surveillance began in 1985. In the first year after the study began, new HIV infections among gay and bisexual men in the Australian state of New South Wales are said to have fallen to 102, compared with 149 in the previous 12 months.
Gilead pill’s is a fixed-dose combination of the drugs tenofovir, disoproxil and emtricitabine. The availability of generic versions of Truvada made by Mylan of the US, Cipla of India and Israel’s Teva Pharmaceutical Industries are credited with making the medication more affordable.
“I’m more confident now that the policymakers are being very innovative in thinking about how to increase access to PrEP,” Gilead CEO John F. Milligan Gilead is quoted as telling the Morgan Stanley Global Health Care Conference in September. Milligan said at the time the drugmaker is working toward increasing the number of patients on PrEP.
“We see the nice steady growth of Truvada for the use of PrEP,” Milligan added. Alongside Australia, he said the areas of the US with the highest uptake of PrEP have achieved some of the best reductions in HIV infections. According to Gilead, 180,000 people in the US were. taking Truvada for PrEPin the first half of 2018.