Washington: Federal drug regulators on Tuesday confirmed that a popular HIV-fighting pill could also thwart healthy people from becoming infected with the virus that leads to AIDS in the first place.
While the pill seems safe and effective for prevention, scientists insisted that it only works when taken on a daily basis.
The Food and Drug Administration will hold a meeting on Thursday to discuss whether Truvada should be approved for people who are at risks of contracting HIV through sexual intercourse, CBS News reported.
The agency’s positive review posted on Tuesday indicates that the daily pill will become the first drug approved to prevent HIV infection in high-risk patients.
FDA reviewers concluded that taking Truvada pre-emptively could spare patients “infection with a serious and life-threatening illness that requires lifelong treatment.”
Despite the positive results, reviewers asserted that patients must be diligent about taking the pill every day.
Adherence to the prescription was less than perfect in clinical trials, and reviewers said that patients in the real world might forget to take their medication even more than those in clinical studies.
First announced in 2010, Truvada’s preventive ability was considered a breakthrough in the 30-year campaign against the AIDS epidemic.
Because Truvada is already on the market to tackle HIV, some doctors presently prescribe it as a preventive measure. FDA approval would allow the drugmaker Gilead Sciences to formally market its drug for the new use.
However, support for FDA approval is not unanimous. Some researchers insisted that condoms remain the best weapon against AIDS, and a prevention pill is not the chemical equivalent.
Researchers are also apprehensive about Truvada’s mixed success rate in preventing infection among women.
Yet, a number of HIV patient advocacy groups say the drug should be a prescribing option to prevent HIV, alongside condoms, counselling and other measures.