A Once-a-Day HIV Drug Proves Safe

Two studies show the multi-drug pill may be effective in suppressing the HIV virus.

A once-a-day HIV drug proved effective in suppressing the virus and may help patients reduce their medications. (Photo: Bruce Forster/ Getty Images)

Jun 29, 2012
Jeannine Stein, a California native, wrote about health for the Los Angeles Times. In her pursuit of a healthy lifestyle she has taken countless fitness classes, hiked in Nepal and got in a boxing ring.

A drug that combines four medications into a once-a-day pill may be effective in treating HIV, studies find.

Some HIV drug treatments require patients to take copious pills a day—more than 15 in some cases. But two studies in The Lancet found that an antiretroviral “Quad” pill that combines several medications into one did well in treating the virus compared to another established treatments.

One Phase 3 trial included 700 people, about half of whom were treated with the Quad pill, and half treated with another one-dose multi-drug pill called Atripla, currently being used to treat HIV.

After 48 weeks, 88 percent of those in the Quad group saw suppression of the virus, compared to 84 percent in the Atripla group.  Adverse reactions that caused some participants to stop taking the drug were low: 13 in the Quad group and 18 in the Atripla group.

“Response to the Quad was favorable across a wide range of patients, including those with high HIV viral loads who are sometimes difficult to treat," lead author Dr. Paul Sax told ABC News. Sax, of Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, added, “Overall, both treatments were very well tolerated. These results suggest that Quad will be an important new option for HIV treatment if it is approved."

An OK from the Food and Drug Administration may come this summer.

The Quad drug, which combines four medications, is also said to be the first pill to include an integrase inhibitor, which stops replication of the virus.

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