GlaxoSmithKline announce new bi-monthly injectable drug to treat HIV
By Richard Hack
Pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline has announced that one bi-monthly injection of its HIV suppressing drug Cabotegravir is more effective as a Pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) than the regularly prescribed once-daily Truvada pill from Gilead. If proven to be accurate in further testing, this news could be a major game changer in the multi-billion dollar PrEP universe.
According to GlaxoSmithKline, the drug trial which has been on-going for years has been was cancelled early by an independent monitoring board after Cabotegravir was found to be 69 percent more effective than Truvada, the British drugmaker said on Monday.
Six shots a year was also judged to be far more compatible with the lifestyles of gay men who find it difficult to remember to take the 365 Truvada pills currently prescribed in an annual dose.
But the market segment GSK is eyeing is about to become more competitive as cheaper generic versions of Truvada are expected to be launched in the United States in September, as the patent expires.
Gilead, for its part, hopes that Truvada users will opt against the cheaper copies and switch to its new daily pill Descovy, approved in October 2019 after it was shown to be less toxic to the kidneys and bones.
According to Kimberly Smith, Senior VP, Head of Research and Development at ViiV Healthcare, a majority of which is owned by GSK, “Individuals have to show up every eight weeks in the clinic for the injection but in-between there is not a need to take a pill daily, so you really change the equation for adherence with a long acting (drug).”
A similar trial to test the cabotegravir injection to prevent HIV in women, is still ongoing.