New HIV pill given green light
A newly produced pill which contains four types of drugs for HIV in a single daily dose has been tested and is safe to use, claims a study in the United States.
Researchers at the Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, Massachusetts, said that the quad pill could be an "important new treatment option" because it allows HIV sufferers to stick to their medication much easier, improving the effects of their treatment.
Currently multiple drugs are given to HIV patients to help them manage their condition. No drug has been created as yet which can cure HIV but the hope is that this study will help to give sufferers some respite and a more normal life.
The pill is also the first to include an anti-HIV drug known as integrase inhibitor, which helps to prevent the virus from replicating.
"Patient adherence to medication is vital, especially for patients with HIV, where missed doses can quickly lead to the virus becoming resistant to medication," said Paul Sax, clinical director at the hospital and associate professor at Harvard Medical School.
Before concluding that the quad pill is fit for distribution, Dr Sax oversaw a study involving more than 700 patients. It was found to have a positive effect although it does carry the risk of causing some kidney problems among those taking it.
"Our results provide an additional highly potent, well-tolerated treatment option and highlight the simplicity of treatment resulting from combining several antiretrovirals in a single pill," he added.
The news was welcomed by Dr Steve Taylor, an HIV specialist at Birmingham Heartland Hospital, who said: "Without a doubt the achievement of a one-a-day pill has been a big advance in tackling HIV.
"We've come a long way from people taking up to 40 pills three times a day."