Metro Weekly

Injectable HIV treatment only requires six doses per year, study finds

ViiV Healthcare's monthly injections are just as effective every two months, company announces

Cabenuva HIV treatment -- Photo: ViiV Healthcare
Cabenuva — Photo: ViiV Healthcare

Monthly injections to treat HIV are as effective when used every two months, according to new findings.

ViiV Healthcare, a specialist HIV company which is part of GlaxoSmithKline, earlier this year achieved FDA approval for Cabenuva, a monthly injectable antiretroviral regimen to treat HIV.

The monthly injections were touted for their ability to reduce treatment for the virus from a daily pill regimen to just 12 treatment days per year.

Now, ViiV has announced that Cabenuva — a combination of two antiretroviral injections, ViiV’s cabotegravir and Johnson & Johnson’s rilpivirine — can achieve similar levels of performance when administered every two months.

“It provides an option that could change the treatment experience for some people living with HIV by removing the need for daily pills for the treatment of HIV,” Hans Jäeger, MD, investigator for ViiV’s ATLAS-2M study, said in a statement.

“Taking a pill every day can come as an unwelcome daily reminder of their HIV status or it may add to their fears that their HIV status might be disclosed by someone seeing their HIV medication,” Jäeger continued. “This regimen can enable people living with HIV to reduce the days they receive treatment from 365 to 12 or 6 per year, representing a paradigm shift in their experience of HIV treatment.”

Data from ViiV’s global study confirmed that dosing the treatment every two months was “non-inferior to monthly dosing,” the company said.

Read MoreStudy finds having undetectable HIV levels “effectively prevents” transmission among gay couples

ViiV had previously examined two-month dosing’s efficacy up to 48 weeks, finding it to be “similarly effective” to monthly dosing. After 96 weeks, ViiV’s data showed “that rates of virologic suppression were similar between the two arms” of the study.

The company has now submitted a supplemental New Drug Application to the FDA to expand the use of Cabenuva to include both monthly and two-monthly dosing.

In addition to its use in Cabenuva, ViiV has previously found that bi-monthly injections of its antiretroviral cabotegravir are more effective when used as PrEP than once-daily pills.

Read MorePrEP injection every two months proves more effective than daily Truvada

Sold under the brand name Truvada, PrEP — or pre-exposure prophylaxis — is a single, daily pill that uses antiretrovirals to help prevent HIV-negative people from contracting the virus.

While the pill is already up to 99% effective at preventing transmission of HIV, ViiV found that an injection of cabotegravir every two months was even more effective — 69% more — at preventing transmission.

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