HIV patients could replace their daily pills with a monthly shot under an experimental medication now being tested by NIH scientists with the help of Johnson & Johnson’s research arm, Janssen Pharmaceutical Cos.
If successfully brought onto the market, these injections could be instrumental in meeting the White House’s goal to end the AIDS epidemic in the U.S. within the next decade by making the treatment plan less cumbersome.
HIV treatments, which are also known as antiretroviral therapy, or ART, have successfully helped HIV patients live longer, healthier lives while reducing the risk of transmission. Taking the treatments as prescribed can bring down the presence of HIV in the body to undetectable levels, Anthony S. Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, wrote earlier this year.
But as many as a quarter of those with an antiretroviral therapy prescription stop taking the daily medication for some period, according to the NIAID, which is part of the National Institutes of Health.
“Effective alternative formulations of antiretrovirals, including long-acting injectables, may help people better adapt to HIV treatment,” Fauci said in a May 9 statement.
The clinical trial, called Long-Acting Therapy to Improve Treatment Success in Daily Life, or LATITUDE, will help determine whether a combination of two experimental injectable ART drugs are superior to conventional oral medications in managing HIV infections. Researchers will evaluate how much of the virus is in the blood and other indicators of immune health to compare the treatment’s effectiveness to that of conventional oral antiretrovirals.
British-based pharmaceutical company ViiV Healthcare submitted a new drug application to the Food and Drug Administration in late April to bring a monthly injectable treatment to patients as part of a partnership with Johnson & Johnson. If approved, it would be the the first long-acting injectable HIV treatment regimen.