A new drug to treat HIV just got approved in the U.S. — and it could shake up a US$22 billion market

The treatment uses two drugs instead of three or more, which has been the standard

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 22 November, 2017, 3:01pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 22 November, 2017, 3:03pm

By Lydia Ramsey

The FDA approved a two-drug regimen for HIV for the first time on Tuesday.

The pill, which contains dolutegravir with rilpivirine, is made by ViiV, the specialist HIV company majority owned by GlaxoSmithKline, that has Pfizer and Japanese pharmaceutical company Shionogi as shareholders.

Up until now, people living with HIV suppress the virus with a regimen of three or four pills. Keeping the amount of HIV in the blood low is key for suppressing symptoms of the virus. And the hope is that by using fewer drugs, there won’t be as many side effects for patients.

“Limiting the number of drugs in any HIV treatment regimen can help reduce toxicity for patients,” Dr. Debra Birnkrant, director of the division of antiviral products at the FDA said in a press release.

The approval could shake up the US$22 billion HIV drug market over the next year, as another company tries to upgrade its system as well.

On May 30, Gilead said it found in four late-stage studies that its drug, bictegravir, wasn’t inferior to ViiV’s dolutegravir. Gilead hopes to pair bictegravir with emtricitabine/tenofovir alafenamide, drugs that are considered the “backbone” of HIV treatments. Gilead plans to file its drug regimen for approval in 2017.

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