Two companies team up to deliver an HIV regimen of just one pill once daily
As combo therapy gets set to celebrate its 10th anniversary, what better present for U.S. HIVers than the country’s first one-pill-once-a-day treatment? Gilead Sciences (which makes nukes Emtriva and Viread) and Bristol-Myers Squibb (BMS, maker of non-nuke Sustiva) have bonded to meld those three drugs into what HIVers didn’t dare dream of in 1996, when a typical regimen consisted of 10 or more pills dosed three times a day. BMS rep David Rosen says the oner should be on sale by mid-2006 or sooner. Gilead’s Norbert Bischofberger, PhD, explains that since all three drugs are already approved, the trifecta pill just has to be tested for stability (shelf life) and bioequivalence (does it perform the same as the three meds taken separately?). We stopped popping corks to ask, What took so long? Rosen answers, “It’s not easy to get two competitors to do this—this is new groundwork.” True that.
Will it be a high-priced horse pill? Nah, Bischofberger says, it shouldn’t be much bigger than a Sustiva tablet. And it shouldn’t cost more than the three meds together. As Rosen says, “You shoot yourself in the foot if you price it too high.”
The One For Me? HIVers sound off on what an all-in-one HIV regimen will mean for them:
Andrena Ingram, 50, Seminary Student, Philadelphia, PA Dx: 1993 When I started meds, it was overwhelming—I had to take all those pills to stay alive. Why didn’t they come out with this sooner?
Peter Petraitis, 55, Retired Editor, Boston, MA Dx: 1992 I’m resistant to most of the meds, so my docs had to be creative. Maybe this will lead to simpler combos that will work for me, too.
Elizabeth Mercado, 44, HIV Educator, Staten Island, NY Dx: 1987 With diabetes, hypertension and HIV, I take a lot of meds. One pill a day would be less stressful. I’d definitely try that new combo.
Valens Fils-Aimé, 31, Teacher, Miami, FL, Dx: 2004 One pill a day is wonderful. The fewer pills in your stomach, the better. I am full of hope: New meds are on the way—and eventually a cure.