HIV prevention pill Truvada backed by US experts
The advisory committee debated the issue in an 11-hour meeting
11 May 2012 Last updated at 01:57
A panel of US health experts has for the first time backed a drug to prevent HIV infection in healthy people.
The panel recommended US regulators approve the daily pill, Truvada, for use by people considered at high risk of contracting the Aids virus.
The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is not required to follow the panel’s advice, but it usually does.
Correspondents say the move could prove to be a new milestone in the fight against HIV/Aids.
Truvada is already approved by the FDA for people who are HIV-positive, and is taken along with existing anti-retroviral drugs.
Studies from 2010 showed that Truvada, made by California-based Gilead Sciences, reduced the risk of HIV in healthy gay men – and among HIV-negative heterosexual partners of people who are HIV positive – by between 44% and 73%.
The Antiviral Drugs Advisory Committee, which advises the FDA, voted 19-3 in favour of prescribing the drug to the highest risk group – non-infected men who have sex with multiple male partners.
They also approved it, by majority votes, for uninfected people with HIV-positive partners and for other groups considered at risk of acquiring HIV through sexual activity.
The votes followed an 11-hour meeting of the panel in Silver Spring, Maryland, and a lengthy public comments session.
Some health providers voiced concern that the pill could increase risky behaviour and could lead to a drug-resistant strain of HIV.
But others welcomed the panel’s recommendation.
“This brings us closer to a watershed for global HIV prevention efforts,” said Mitchell Warren, executive director of the Aids Vaccine Advocacy Coalition, after the vote.
The FDA is expected to make its decision by 15 June.