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One-a-Day Pills Get Even Better

One-a-Day Pills Get Even Better


A new medication, currently in the testing phase, could make HIV treatment even easier

When the Food and Drug Administration approved Stribild last year as a one-pill daily treatment for HIV, the lives of millions were changed for the better. Now drugmaker Gilead is working to improve on the medication and recently released successful study results for a drug similar to Stribild, but with far fewer side effects.

At the March Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections in Atlanta, Gilead announced the results of its Phase II study of a single-tablet regimen that contains TAF, or tenofovir alafenamide (a modified form of tenofovir, which is marketed as Viread), and a similar combination of the other treatments that Stribild uses to keep HIV at bay.

The TAF-based combination pill suppressed the virus to a similar degree as Stribild, but, said investigator Andrew Zolopa, MD, it proved easier on the kidneys and bones.

“Given that HIV is now a chronic disease that can be managed with lifelong therapy,” he said, “there remains a need for new treatment options that are well-tolerated.” Turns out, he and his research team are hoping that this is it.

Like all medications, Stribild carries the risk of side effects, the two most serious being kidney failure and bone weakness. The TAF-based option appears to lessen those risks, while also accomplishing what Stribild does with HIV. “Both regimens were generally well-tolerated” in the study, said a Gilead statement.  

Gilead is now advancing the new med to the next phase of studies, which will look at how patients new to HIV treatment respond to the regimen.

“The Phase III program for TAF is enrolling rapidly, and we look forward to sharing initial results from these studies next year,” Erin Rau, associate director of public affairs for Gilead, told HIV Plus.

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Neal Broverman