A huge achievement in the fight against HIV/AIDS

The European Union has approved a new HIV treatment that combines the use of  Vocabria (cabotegravir injection and tablets) and Janssen Pharmaceutical’s Rekambys (rilpivirine injection and Eudurant (rilpivirine tablets).

Both ViiV Healthcare and The Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies of Johnson & Johnson made the announcement on 21 December.

This monumental step will allow people living with HIV in the EU a more efficient treatment. With these new drugs, the need to take oral tablets daily will be nixed and the days of treatment will only amount to 12 or 6 days.

The new treatment was found effective through a study taken by ViiV Healthcare and Positive Perspectives Wave 2.

Dr Antonio Antela from the University Hospital in Santiago de Compostela, Spain opened up about the treatment and clinical trials stating: “Daily antiretrovirals have transformed the lives of people living with HIV. However, taking daily medication can pose challenges for some people; it may act as a constant reminder of HIV or be a cause of fear that their HIV status will be disclosed.”

He continued: “The long-acting regimen of cabotegravir and rilpivirine was as effective as treatment with current daily antiviral therapy in the clinical trials in maintaining viral suppression […] and could change the treatment experience for some people living with HIV that may have challenges with the daily HIV therapies.”

The CEO of ViiV Healthcare, Deborah Waterhouse also released a statement regarding the treatment stating: “At ViiV Healthcare, we push the boundaries to provide new treatment options that will help make a difference to people’s lives.”

“We saw from the patient-reported outcomes in our pivotal clinical trials that approximately 9 out of 10 people who switched to the long-acting regimen preferred this over their previous daily oral tablets,” she continued.

“It will potentially change the treatment experience for some people living with HIV by removing the need for daily HIV tablets. We are committed to pursing innovative research to meet the diverse needs of the HIV community, and we won’t stop until we have more ways to treat, and hopefully one day cure, HIV.”

The fight against HIV has been a constant uphill battle but in recent years scientists have made impressive steps to tackle the virus.

From the introduction of PrEP — an anti-retroviral drug taken by HIV-negative people that reduces the risk of acquiring the virus — to new scientific breakthroughs of a possible cure, the battle against HIV and AIDS has steadily progressed.

Paul Stoffels, M.D. Vice-Chairman of the Executive Committee and Chief Scientific Officer at Johnson & Johnson expressed his excitement for the future, stating: “We are delighted with the European Commission’s decision to approve this long-acting injectable treatment.”

He continued: At Janssen, we are incredibly proud of this authorisation and the progress it marks in achieving our goal to address some of the biggest health threats of our time.”