FDA Approves First Drug To Prevent HIV Infection | WAMU 88.5 - American University Radio
Filed Under:

FDA Approves First Drug To Prevent HIV Infection

Play associated audio

The Food and Drug Administration has given the first OK for a drug to prevent HIV infection.

The daily pill Truvada, made by Gilead Sciences, combines two medicines that inhibit the reproduction of HIV. It's been a mainstay in the treatment of HIV/AIDS for years, and as of today is an approved option for reducing the risk of HIV infection for people at high risk.

The drug was approved for people who test negative for HIV infection. It's supposed to be used in combination with safe-sex practices, such as using a condom, to reduce infection risk. "Truvada alone shouldn't be used to prevent HIV infection," FDA's Dr. Debra Birnkrant, said in a media briefing.

People taking Truvada should be tested for HIV infection every three months, so treatment can begin promptly if an infection has occurred.

An outside panel of experts had recommend the agency take the action after concluding 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.

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.

Birnkrant said the steady rate of new infections showed that more options are needed to reduce transmission of the virus. "Truvada for pre-exposure prevention represents another effective evidence-based approach," she said.

But the cost for prevention isn't trivial. The annual tab for Truvada ranges from about $11,000 to $14,000.

In an interview with Talk of Nation's Neal Conan in May, the National Institute of Health's Anthony Fauci, said of Truvada, that it's "an important component of the broad tool kits that we do have for prevention."

He acknowledged the risks, such as side effects, and the possibility that some people taking the drug might engage in riskier behavior because they think they're protected.

In response to a question about that from NPR's Richard Knox today, FDA's Birnkrant said studies of Truvada for prevention found an increase in condom use over time — not a drop. (Listen to Knox's story on Monday's All Things Considered for more.)

During the Fauci interview conducted shortly after the expert panel recommended FDA approval of Truvada for prevention, he said, "I agree with the advisory committee strongly that when you balance the benefits of this, making this available, to the risks, ... the benefits far outweigh the risks, although you must take seriously the potential downsides of it and be prudent in your use of this."

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

WAMU 88.5

Art Beat With Lauren Landau, April 21, 2015

You can immerse yourself in the life and music of Gustav Mahler or hear what students from highly-respected music conservatories have to offer.
NPR

Blue Bell Widens Recall To All Of Its Products Over Listeria Worries

The CDC has called it "a complex and ongoing multistate outbreak of listeriosis occurring over an extended period of several years."
WAMU 88.5

Slate Of Criminal Justice Reforms In Maryland Await Gov. Hogan's Signature

Maryland lawmakers passed a handful of bills this week aimed at getting non-violent criminals out of prisons and back in the workforce.

NPR

What Can #NOLASCHOOLS Teach Us?

Michel Martin is hosting a conversation about education in New Orleans, ten years after Hurricane Katrina sparked a transformation of public schools there. Add your voice at #NOLASCHOOLS.

Leave a Comment

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