July 20, 2024

Athens News

News in English from Greece

Potential medical breakthrough: HIV prevention drug successfully tested in Africa

A new drug for HIV prevention was tested in Africa, the participants were women from two countries – from South Africa and Uganda.

The study was completed even ahead of schedule due to the fact that the drug has demonstrated exceptional effectiveness, giving an advantage over other similar ones. This is reported in press release Gilead Sciences is an American biopharmacological research company engaged in the manufacture and testing of the effectiveness of medical products, reports edition of The New York Times.

Lanecapavir is an innovative prophylactic injectable drug, unlike other popular HIV prevention products, is designed to be administered only twice a year. The third phase of its trial was carried out in 25 cities in the Republic of South Africa and 3 cities in Uganda – countries where the highest rates of HIV infection are recorded among young women.

More than 5,300 women and girls aged 16 to 25 took part in the study. They were divided into three groups, each of which received different preventive measures against the virus – lanocapavir, oral Descovy and Truvada. Despite common practice, the scientists did not assign women to a control group where they received no treatment. This decision was explained as “unethical” due to high rates of HIV infection in the region.

Interim results showed that The new drug has a striking advantage in effectiveness; among 2,134 women who took lenacapavir, not a single one became infected with HIV. At the same time, there were 39 cases among 2,136 participants (1.5%) in the Descovy group and 16 of 1,068 women (1.8%) receiving Truvada prophylaxis. Mehrdad Parsi, MD, Chief Medical Officer of Gilead Sciences, noted:

“With 100% efficacy, lenacapavir has demonstrated its potential as an important new tool for preventing HIV infections. We look forward to additional results from the ongoing clinical program and continuing to achieve our goal of helping end the HIV epidemic for everyone, everywhere.”

The scientists also drew attention to previous studies that documented problems with the use of the tablet form of the drug in patients. Their use is complicated by the fact that oral medications are only effective when taken on a strict schedule. Lilian Mworeko, who heads an East African group called the International Community of Women Living With HIV, says:

“For a young woman who can't get an appointment at a clinic in the city, who can't get the pills without facing stigma or violence, injecting only twice a year is an option that can keep her HIV-free.”

The results of the trial were so convincing that it was stopped early and all participants were offered to take lanecapavir, which demonstrated the highest effectiveness.

But the question of availability of the new drug remains open due to its high costbecause in the United States, where lanecapavir has received HIV prevention status, the company sells two injections for $42,250.

Gilead said it is committed to making large volumes of the drug available “at prices that ensure widespread availability” as quickly as possible in low-income countries where there are high rates of the virus.

To that end, the company plans to share rights to the drug with drug makers in the region in exchange for a licensing fee, with the goal of eventually making a cheaper product available to low- and middle-income countries, according to Gilead senior vice president Janet Dorling.

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