New one-a-day HIV treatment

THE GOVERNMENT drug agency INFARMED has approved a revolutionary new one-a-day tablet for the treatment of HIV in Portugal.

Atripla, a three-in-one drug developed by Gilead, Bristol-Meyers Squibb and Merck, is not yet available even though it was passed for use in Portugal in December last year, but could be within months.

Carlos Pires, of the National Medicines Authority (Autoridade Nacional do Medicamento) said that the drug could only be made available after the Ministry of the Economy (Ministerio da Economia) had negotiated the price.

The powerful chemical cocktail contains three elements, efavirenz, emtricitabina and tenofovir.

Amilcar Soares, President of Positive Association (Associacao Positivo) explains that the new drug “makes it easier for patients to take” instead of having to worry about three or more different pills taken at different times of the day.

“Anything that simplifies patient’s lives is welcome,” agrees HIV/AIDS organization Abraco director Margarida Martins.

When the first anti-retroviral treatments were introduced in 1996 patients had to take 30 tablets a day, some on an empty stomach, others with food, at different times of the day.

Atripla was licensed in the United States in July 2006 where, according to the BBC, it is taken by a half of all recently diagnosed patients.

In Portugal there are currently 32,491 registered cases of HIV according to the Ricardo Jorge Institute Centre for Transmittable Diseases and Epidemiology. In 2007 there were 1,000 new cases.

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