A New, Long-Acting HIV Prevention Drug Just Got FDA Approval

The FDA approved a new form of pre-exposure prophylactic for preventing cases of HIV. The first injection-based treatment for pre-exposure prophylactics is called Apretude, and it is a once-daily pill. It will only take a single month to take apretude, and then every two months, giving a more convenient option for many people.

Truvada was approved by the FDA. Descovy was the secondPrEP treatment to be approved. Both were developed by Gilead Sciences and use a two-drug combination of existing antivirals. It is highly effective at preventing sexually transmitted HIV infections, but less effective at preventing infections contracted from sharing contaminated needles.

The growing use of pre-exposure prophylactics, orPrEP, has likely contributed to the decline in new HIV infections in the U.S., but its implementation has run into trouble. The brand-name drugs cost over a thousand dollars a month without insurance. High out-of-pocket costs were still faced by evenPrEP users. The price of Truvada has plummeted after other drug manufacturers were allowed to make a generic equivalent to the drug.

The once-daily dosage forPrEP presented a challenge since many people may not be able or willing to maintain their regimen. More opportunities may be provided by Apretude.

The drug is an extended-release suspension of the HIV antiviral cabotegravir. It will be taken once a month for the first two months, and then every two months after that for teens and adults who are considered to be at higher risk for contracting HIV-1. The oral version of cabotegravir can be taken for a month to assess its tolerability.