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New Combo Drug Is Effective — And Cheaper


A new two-drug combo antiretroviral therapy proves just as effective as the three-drug combo, says researchers in Spain.

According to reports at the International Congress on Drug Therapy in HIV infection, simplifying antiretroviral therapy from a three-drug regimen to a two-drug combination of lamivudine plus the protease inhibitor darunavir boosted by ritonavir can be just as effective in people with suppressed viral loads.

Research from a study in Spain called the "DUAL Study" suggested there are many benefits to a two-drug combination (a boosted protease inhibitor or an integrase inhibiter, taken with lamivudine). One important discovery is that might reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and kidney problems linked to toxicities associated with the use of a second nucleoside or nucleotide analogue — lamivudine shows to have little side effects.

Additionally, lamivudine seems to mix better with drugs a patient might be taking to treat other conditions, which obviously decreases the risk of problematic drug interactions, reports AidsMap, especially for poz people later in life. Not to mention, lamivudine is less expensive, which means a two-drug combination could save money over time. The reason for that is because lamivudine is also available in a cheaper generic form. 

Out of the 249 undetectable HIV-positive participants in the DUAL Study, 75 percent were taking tenofovir/emtricitabine and 25 percent were taking abacavir/lamivudine.

After six months, researchers found that 89 percent of participants on two-drug therapy had a viral load <50 copies/ml, versus 93 percent of the triple-drug regimen. Overall, the difference in more serious adverse effects between two-drug participants and three-drug participants was 0.1 percent (4.8 versus 4.9 percent) — I’d say that’s pretty good, eh? 

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David Artavia