EU regulator gives green light to first injectable HIV drug

EU regulator gives green light to first injectable HIV drug
EU regulator gives green light to first injectable HIV drug

HIV-1 virus. Photo credit: J Roberto Trujillo / Wikipedia

The EU Medicines Agency on Friday gave the go-ahead for the first injectable treatment for the HIV virus, which causes AIDS and could change the lives of millions of people.

The cocktail of two antiretroviral (ARV) drugs, rilpivirine and cabotegravir, can be given every few months instead of a daily pill to help keep HIV infection under control.

“The two drugs are the first ARVs that are available in a long-acting injectable formulation,” said a statement from the European Medicines Agency.

“This means that instead of daily pills, patients will receive intramuscular injections monthly or every two months,” said the Amsterdam-based agency.

The EMA’s recommendation on the Marketing Authorization must now be approved by the European Commission before it can be made mandatory across the block of 27 countries.

The injectable version of the drugs could be transformative for people living with HIV.

People who forget to take their daily, life-long doses of HIV drugs are at risk of the virus rebounding and making them sick.

They can also develop resistance to the drugs they are using – which would require a more expensive replacement.

The new cocktail of rilpivirine and cabotegravir – under the Rekambys and Vocabria brand – is working together “to block the virus’ ability to replicate,” the EMA said.

The agency said the injectable treatment was “a significant improvement … by reducing the stress associated with daily pill intake”.

According to the World Health Organization, around 38 million people worldwide lived with HIV in 2019 and around 2.3 million people in Europe.

There is no cure for HIV infection, but ARV therapies can control the virus, prevent transmission, and allow patients to live longer.

Once a month, HIV drugs are on the horizon

© 2020 AFP

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