China approves first homemade anti-HIV drug Albuvirtide, likely to be a boon to thousands of patients

Albuvirtide is injected once a week and is secure, a staff from the Nanjing-based Frontier Biotechnologies Inc, surnamed Zhu, told Global Times.

China approves first homemade anti-HIV drug Albuvirtide, likely to be a boon to thousands of patients

Beijing: China has approved the first domestically developed, long-acting injectable HIV drug Albuvirtide which could be a boon to tens of thousands of HIV/AIDS patients in the country, the official media reported.

The drug, approved by the China Food and Drug Administration, can block the fusion of the virus and host cell membranes, interrupting the HIV life cycle in its earliest stage, state-run Global Times quoted a report from Science and Technology Daily. 

Albuvirtide is injected once a week and is secure, a staff from the Nanjing-based Frontier Biotechnologies Inc, surnamed Zhu, told Global Times. 

Compared to imported anti-HIV drugs, Albuvirtide has fewer side effects, especially on the liver, state-run Xinhua news agency reported, quoting Wu Hao, head of the infection center at Beijing You'an Hospital.

The drug is a fusion inhibitor that should be used with antiretroviral drugs to treat people with HIV condition who have received antiviral therapy, the company said.

Albuvirtide could potentially enhance patient compliance, improve quality of life and reduce treatment costs for HIV-infected patients, it wrote.

Current HIV treatments used in China are either generic or imported. AIDS and HIV patients mostly took a handful of pills every day, Peng Xiaohui, a sexologist at Central China Normal University, told the Global Times.

"China's first domestically developed drug offers new HIV patients a new treatment option. We hope to dispel the fact that China has not developed good anti-AIDS medicine," Xie Dong, chief scientist and former head of Frontier Biotechnologies Inc was quoted by the Science and Technology Daily as saying. 

Several companies are developing long-acting AIDS drugs in China, but only Frontier's drug has been approved, the Xinhua report said. 

Peng said the patients have to overcome psychological obstacles first since they need to inject medicine on their own or have a doctor do it for them.

According to official data China has 718,270 people suffering from HIV/AIDS in China. 

As of the end of June last year, 221,628 people had died of AIDS-related diseases in China, according to a Xinhua report of December 2017.

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