FDA Gets Advice To Approve First Pill To Cut HIV Infections | WAMU 88.5 - American University Radio

NPR : News

Filed Under:

FDA Gets Advice To Approve First Pill To Cut HIV Infections

In what could mark a watershed in the fight against HIV/AIDS, a panel of experts recommended that the Food and Drug Administration give a green light to a pill that can cut the risk of infections.

The daily pill, Truvada, made by Gilead Sciences, combines two medicines that inhibit the reproduction of HIV. It's already approved as a treatment for HIV, but its use could soon expand to include protection of uninfected people.

The advisory panel concluded Thursday that the benefits to healthy people vulnerable to HIV infection outweigh the risks, including such side effects as kidney damage and a dangerous increase in acid in the blood.

The people the panel has in mind are gay and bisexual men and heterosexual couples in which one partner is positive for HIV.

About 50,000 people in the U.S. become infected with HIV each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The majority of new infections are in gay or bisexual men.

There's no guarantee the FDA will heed the panel's advice, but the agency typically does so. A decision is expected by June 15.

Studies have shown that Truvada can reduce the risk of HIV infection by 63 percent or more over the course of a year. But the drug is expensive — about $11,000 a year in the U.S.

Some critics think money would be better spent on other means of prevention.

Now, it's already the case that doctors in the U.S. are free to prescribe an approved medicine for any use they see fit. And some do.

But even after data first showed Truvada's ability to protect against HIV infection, a doctor at a Boston clinic told Bloomberg News that people weren't beating the door to get it.

One worry, some doctors say, is that healthy people may not stick with the daily Truvada regimen, undercutting its effectiveness.

Copyright 2012 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

WAMU 88.5

Art Beat With Lauren Landau, Sept. 17

Art is what you make of it. You can chew, crunch and dance at a bacon-inspired festival or see how a local artist transformed old objects into responsive sculptures.

NPR

Edible Packaging? Retailers Not Quite Ready To Ditch The Wrapper

To reduce waste, some enterprising companies are trying to roll out products that make the package part of the snack — edible packaging. But selling it to the retail market is trickier than it seems.
NPR

House Could Vote On $500 Million To Arm, Train Syrian Rebels

The possible vote to authorize the Obama administration's plan to arm and train moderate fighters comes as the president meets with military officials at U.S. Central Command.
NPR

When The Power's Out, Solar Panels May Not Keep The Lights On

With the price of solar panels falling, more municipalities and homeowners are installing them. But having solar panels doesn't mean you won't lose power in a blackout — at least not yet.

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.