FDA One Step Closer To Approving First Drug For HIV Prevention

The battle against AIDS continues, with a favorable review by the Food and Drug Administration of a pill that has been used to treat HIV. The hope is that the pill could be used to prevent people from contracting the virus that causes AIDS.

The FDA said that Truvada appears to be safe and effective for HIV prevention, concluding that taking the pill daily could spare patients “infection with a serious and life-threatening illness that requires lifelong treatment,” reports the Associated Press (via MSNBC).

Tomorrow, a panel of FDA advisers will consider the review when it votes as to whether or not Truvada should be approved as a preventative treatment for anyone at a high risk of getting HIV through sex. The FDA doesn’t have to do what the panel says, but it usually does for the most part.

Needless to say, if Truvada is approved for this use, it’ll have a huge impact on the campaign against the AIDS epidemic. There are no other drugs out there proven to prevent HIV, and a vaccine is still decades away. Truvada has been used since 2004 as a treatment for those already infected with HIV.

If it’s to be used as a preventative measure, the FDA reviewers say Truvada must be taken diligently every day.

“We know that if the person doesn’t take the medication every day they will not be protected,” said Dr. Rodney Wright, director of HIV programs at Montefiore Medical Center in New York and chairman of the AIDS Health Foundation. “So the concern is that there may not be adequate adherence to provide protection in the general population.”

While patient advocacy groups seem to be in favor of its approval, on the down side, Truvada would cost about $900 a month, which works out to around $11,000 per year. Since Medicare and Medicaid generally cover drugs approved by the FDA, they and other insurers might come out against the drug’s approval.

*Thanks for the tip, Matt!

FDA review favors first drug for HIV prevention [Associated Press via MSNBC]