May 9, 2012: The consumption of Gilead Sciences’ Truvada every day can protect the healthy people from the death causing HIV virus. However, will the patients take the pill daily – is an issue that has divided the AIDS advocates in two groups. Moreover, the U.S. regulators are considering approving the pill as the first preventive measure against the AIDS (HIV) disease.
The Food and Drug Administration staff concluded that Truvada is safe and effective as preventive medicine in their report on Tuesday. On Thursday, an advisory panel set for debate on who would be eligible to get the pill and whether patients can be educated on the importance of following the prescription properly.
According to doctors, the basic idea behind approval of pill is to get healthy people falling under certain high-risk groups to take a $14,000 per-year pill every day in order to reduce the new estimated 48,000 cases of HIV each year in United States. On the other hand, some of the experts say that such preventive medicine may encourage unprotected sex and increase infections. They believe that the virus can be avoided with the use of condom and there is no need to take such pills.
“That’s an issue many of us have talked about for years,” said Mitchell Warren (Executive Director of AVAC: Global Advocacy for HIV Prevention). “If you have this new option, would you be riskier? There is no evidence to show that might be the case, but that doesn’t mean it’s not a concern.”
According to the study by FDA, the Truvada is capable of reducing the risk of HIV as much as 94% for people who regularly take the pill. In contrast to this, hardly 10% of participants took the medicine as prescribed by their physician in other trials. On top of this, one of the studies was halted as no benefit was gained out of it.
“Among our own patients who are HIV-positive, we have difficulty getting them to adhere, let alone people who don’t have the disease,” said the president of the Los Angeles’ AIDS Healthcare Foundation, Michael Weinstein. “Counting on adherence is not going to work.” The Los Angeles’ AIDS Healthcare Foundation provides medical care for 130,000 people globally.
Another major concern is that the people taking preventive pill may reduce condom use, which again is can be dangerous for people at risk. In addition to this, the resistance to the drug is also a serious problem if the pill is used as preventive medicine. Lastly, the method of distribution of the drug is also an issue as it is not clear – how the drug would be distributed.
- Some facts:
Nearly 415,000 Americans are at high risk for getting infected by HIV that leads to AIDS from sexual activity, as per Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Most of these HIV infected people are those whose partners or spouses have the disease and the gays having more than one partner. Also, the gay men who didn’t wear condoms during sex are at high risk for contracting HIV.
In 2009, the number of people infected with HIV virus rose to 34 million globally.