From CBS News:
In a landmark decision, an advisory panel to the Food and Drug Administration voted to recommend approval of Truvada to prevent HIV infection. The FDA is not required to the follow the panel of experts’ advice, though it typically does.
In a series of votes, a Food and Drug Administration advisory panel recommended approval of the daily pill Truvada for healthy people who are at high risk of contracting HIV, including gay and bisexual men and heterosexual couples with one HIV-positive partner.
A final decision on Truvada is expected by June 15, but the FDA doesn’t confirm such action dates and says the review of the application is ongoing, a spokesperson told CBS News.
“I think this is a huge milestone,” Dr. Robert Grant, associate director of the Center for AIDS Research at the University of California, San Francisco, who led the panel’s research, told CBS News medical correspondent Dr. Jon LaPook. “I think we are in an era for the first time when we can see the end of the AIDS epidemic.”
Gilead Sciences Inc., based in Foster City, Calif., has marketed Truvada since 2004 as a treatment for people who are infected with the virus. The medication is a combination of two older HIV drugs, Emtriva and Viread. Doctors usually prescribe it as part of a drug cocktail to repress the virus.
Since Truvada is already on the market to manage HIV, some doctors have prescribed it as a preventive measure. FDA approval would allow Gilead Sciences to formally market its drug for that use.
While panelists ultimately backed Truvada for prevention, Thursday’s 12-hour meeting highlighted concerns created by the first drug to prevent HIV. In particular, the panel debated whether Truvada might lead to reduced use of condoms, the most reliable defense against HIV. The experts also questioned the drug’s effectiveness in women, who have shown much lower rates of protection in studies.
The panel struggled to outline steps that would ensure patients take the pill every day. In clinical trials, patients who didn’t take their medication diligently were not protected, and patients in the real world are even more likely to forget than those in studies.
“The trouble is adherence, but I don’t think it’s our charge to judge whether people will take the medicine,” said Dr. Tom Giordano of Baylor College of Medicine, who voted in favor of the drug. “I think our charge is to judge whether it works when it’s taken and whether the risks outweigh the benefits.”
My view: This also allows sero-discordant couples- one HIV+, one not- an extra layer of protection. It may also help adherence if two persons are taking the same meds (or at least having to share a daily regimen) in the same household. That in itself is worth it….
- FDA panel backs first pill to block HIV infection (sfgate.com)
- Truvada HIV drug could ‘turn tide’ on spread of Aids (theweek.co.uk)