Associated Press (05.11.12) - Friday, May 18, 2012
With a Food and Drug Administration (FDA) panel's endorsement
of the use of the drug Truvada to prevent HIV infection, the
30-year battle against the AIDS epidemic is advancing to a new
phase, advocates say.
"With this recommendation, we're nearing a watershed moment in
our fight against HIV," said James Loduca, a spokesperson for
the San Francisco AIDS Foundation. "We know this isn't a magic
bullet, and it's not going to be the right prevention strategy
for everyone, but it could save thousands of lives in the
United States and potentially millions around the world."
Truvada has been on the US market as an HIV treatment since
2004. It is already being prescribed off-label by some doctors
for preventing HIV infection in certain patients who are
healthy but at risk. If FDA expands approval to formally
sanction this use, insurance companies could likely cover the
cost. And widening the market could prompt Truvada's maker,
Gilead Sciences Inc., to lower its price - currently around
$11,000 to $14,000 a year.
Truvada is available in poor countries for as little as $9 per
month, said a Gilead spokesperson, but generic versions will
not be available in the United States until after the US
patent expires in 2021.
Truvada can cause kidney and liver problems. But for some
people, the risk of kidney problems "10 years down the line
may be less than the risk for acquiring HIV, which is
significantly more problematic and can be fatal," said Jim
Pickett, prevention advocacy director at AIDS Foundation of
FDA's decision is expected by June 15.