Once-a-day pill that battles HIV infection hailed as breakthrough
Many with HIV must take up to 17 different pills daily
A once-daily "Quad" pill has been successfully tested in patients with the HIV virus. The new drug is being called a breakthrough for the many patients who suffer from the virus that causes AIDS. For many with HIV, a daily regimen of up to 17 pills a day is the norm. The new drug combines several medications into one.
For many with HIV, a daily regimen of up to 17 pills a day is the norm. The new drug combines several medications into one.
Researchers from Harvard Medical School randomly assigned 700 North American patients on two different single-pill regiments, either the new Quad. The other drug, Atripla, has become the standard treatment for treating HIV patients, and was approved by the FDA in 2006.
Eighty-eight percent of patients on the Quad experienced a suppression of the virus after less than a year, compared with 84 percent of the patients on Atripla.
Both drugs were also proven to be safe, with only 3.7 percent of the study participants stopping the Quad and 5.1 percent stopping the Atripla.
More patients with HIV/AIDS have been able to live fuller, longer lives with the disease with more advanced treatments. According to the Centers for Disease Control, more than 1.1 million Americans were estimated to be living with HIV in 2008.
"Response to the Quad was favorable across a wide range of patients, including those with high HIV viral loads who are sometimes difficult to treat," Dr. Paul Sax, clinical director of infectious disease at Harvard Medical School says.
"The side effect profile differed, in that Quad caused fewer rashes and central nervous system side effects than Atripla, but more nausea," Sax said. "Overall, both treatments were very well tolerated. These results suggest that Quad will be an important new option for HIV treatment if it is approved."
The Food and Drug Advisory voted in favor of the Quad in May. A final decision is expected this summer.
Dr. Mark Kline, a pediatric AIDS expert at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, is cautious. He says that the study only shows a modest advance in a long lineage of clinical trials.
"The real unmet need in HIV/AIDS is for simple treatment regimens safe and effective for HIV-infected patients who have failed other therapies because of viral resistance," Kline said.
But the findings are still beneficial, as evidence shows people who receive treatment for HIV do better with single-tablet, once-daily dosage.
"People are more likely to take their medications as prescribed and not miss doses, they are more satisfied with their treatment, and their virus is more likely to be kept under control," Dr. Daliah Mehdi, chief clinical officer with the AIDS Foundation of Chicago says. "This all means that the one-pill-once-a-day regimens allow people with HIV to live longer, healthier lives and also makes them less likely to transmit the virus to others."
© 2012, Catholic Online. Distributed by NEWS CONSORTIUM.
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General Intention: The Faith of Christians. That in this Year of Faith Christians may deepen their knowledge of the mystery of Christ and witness joyfully to the gift of faith in him.
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Keywords: HIV, drugs, medication, once-a-day, AIDS
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