The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved the first injectable medication for HIV. The long-acting drug, Apretude, is expected to reduce the risk of HIV transmission through sex among adults and teenagers who weigh at least 77 pounds (35 kg).
This drug can be used as a substitute for HIV prevention pills such as Truvada and Descovy. These pills have been proved to reduce HIV risk by 99 percent when taken daily on a regular basis. Apretude is given first as two administration injections administered one month apart, then every two months after that.
“Today’s approval adds an important tool in the effort to end the HIV epidemic by providing the first option to prevent HIV that does not involve taking a daily pill,” said Dr. Debra Birnkrant, director of the Division of Antivirals in the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, in a press release.
“This injection, given every two months, will be critical to addressing the HIV epidemic in the U.S., including helping high-risk individuals and certain groups where adherence to daily medication has been a major challenge or not a realistic option.”
The drug is developed by ViiV Healthcare, which is majority-owned by GlaxoSmithKline. This medicine is for people who test negative for HIV immediately before taking the medicine and before each injection — this is especially important since there could be the risk of treatment-resistant HIV variations.
It was found out that this drug was more effective than regular oral medicine in reducing HIV in cisgender men and transgender women who have sex with men. The drug’s safety and efficacy were measured to be 69 percent for cisgender men and transgender women who have sex with men and 90 percent for cisgender women. The ease of administering this drug is the reason for this increased efficacy. It is more convenient than taking an oral pill every day.
The drug’s price is $3,700 per dosage and is expected to start shipping to wholesalers and distributors in the United States in early 2022.