US panel backs first pill to prevent HIV infection

The first drug shown to prevent HIV infection won the endorsement of a panel of US federal advisers,clearing the way for a landmark approval in the 30-year fight against the virus that causes AIDS

Written by Associated Press | Maryland | Published:May 12, 2012 1:16 am

The first drug shown to prevent HIV infection won the endorsement of a panel of US federal advisers,clearing the way for a landmark approval in the 30-year fight against the virus that causes AIDS.

In a series of votes on Thursday,a Food and Drug Administration advisory panel recommended approval of the daily pill Truvada for healthy people who are at high risk of contracting HIV,including gay and bisexual men and heterosexual couples with one HIV-positive partner.

The FDA is not required to follow the panel’s advice,though it usually does. A final decision is expected by June 15.

An estimated 1.2 million Americans have HIV,which develops into AIDS unless treated with antiviral drugs.

Gilead Sciences Inc.,based in California,has marketed Truvada since 2004 as a treatment for people who are infected with the virus. The medication is a combination of two older HIV drugs,Emtriva and Viread.

While panelists ultimately backed Truvada for prevention,Thursday’s 12-hour meeting highlighted a number of concerns created by the first drug to prevent HIV. In particular,the panel debated whether Truvada might lead to reduced use of condoms,the most reliable defence against HIV.

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