Daily HIV medication could soon be replaced with 6 injections per year

Daily HIV medication could soon be phased out – in favour of one injection every two months.

A clinical trial this week backed by pharmaceutical companies Johnson & Johnson and GlaxoSmithKline looked at a new method for managing and treating HIV positive people.

The trial found that a bi-monthly injection proved to be just as effective as relying on daily medication – with people with HIV currently required to take three daily pills.

J&J’s head of pharmaceuticals Paul Stoffels said the injection – a mix of rilpivirine and cabotegravir developed by ViiV Healthcare – could potentially be a “transformational” way to fight HIV.

He added that the new HIV treatment regime could be on the market by 2020, dependant on the initial result being confirmed by a larger trial.

In the early trial, patients who received a bimonthly injection had a 95 percent viral suppression rate – while those who remained on pills had a 91 percent viral suppression rate.

Harvard Medical School researcher Dr Daniel Kuritzkes said the results “provide an extremely important proof of concept that this approach is feasible.”

“Having longer-acting drugs … goes a long way in relieving a burden on patients.”

Dr John C Pottage of ViiV Healthcare said: “ViiV Healthcare is committed to identifying new therapeutic options for physicians and people living with HIV.

“These initial phase IIb data investigating long-acting cabotegravir and rilpivirine are promising and build on the results we have seen to date. We look forward to seeing further results as we move into phase III.”

The approach could provide a lifeline for people who struggle to reliably take the medication required to treat HIV.

The method could also potentially transform HIV care in sub-Saharan Africa, where routine access to medication cannot be guaranteed for people with HIV.
Daily HIV medication could soon be replaced with 6 injections per year
A late-stage study of a second drug combination has already begun.