An injection every eight weeks could replace the current HIV treatment of daily pills, experts have revealed.
A combination of two long-acting HIV medicines – rilpivirine and cabotegravir – injected every four or eight weeks have been just as effective at suppressing the AIDS-causing virus as a daily oral regimen of three HIV medicines in phase 2 clinical trials.
At 32 weeks, the viral suppression rates for patients dosed every eight or four weeks were 95% and 94% respectively. While the suppression rates for patients continuing with the three-drug oral regimen was 91%.
Paul Stoffels, MD chief scientific officer and worldwide chairman pharmaceuticals at Johnson & Johnson, said if these results were replicated in larger final-stage clinical trials, the ‘transformational’ new treatment could be available by 2020.
‘Despite great progress in HIV treatments, the burden of treating HIV patients remains high. Long-acting injectable drug formulations may offer another option for HIV maintenance therapy,’ he said.
‘Our hope in studying such combinations is to make HIV infection manageable with a potentially transformational all injectable regimen.’
If successfully developed and approved by regulators, the new treatment could offer people living with HIV who are virologically suppressed the option to switch from the standard daily regimen of three-drug therapy to a long acting all-injectable regimen that could potentially maintain viral suppression with just six or twelve shots of each drug per year.