What if instead of taking Truvada every day, you only had to take it every few weeks or months — maybe even twice a year? That could soon be a reality, scientists say.
A number of PrEP alternatives to Gilead’s once-daily pill are currently in the works, The Washington Blade reports, ranging from a long-lasting injectable to over-the-counter and on-demand versions of the drug that prevents HIV infection.
One of these proposed alternative forms of PrEP — that is, pre-exposure prophylaxis, referring in this context to antiviral drugs the block infections of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS — is a long-lasting injectable drug that you’d take every four weeks at first, then every two months, then every four to six months.
The injectable might circumvent what Anthony Fauci, an immunologist with the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease, calls the “pill fatigue” that accues with taking daily medications like Truvada, an expensive brand-name drug made by pharmaceutical company Gilead that’s the only recommended form of PrEP on the market.
“People sometimes get pill fatigue, and it becomes onerous to have to take the medicine every single day of your life, particularly a medicine that you know is important for a disease that’s potentially lethal,” Fauci told the Blade.
Another PrEP alternative currently being evaluated is an over-the-counter version that would be available on demand, which Fauci notes is “risky” considering how you don’t, you know…always know when you’re gonna need it, if you catch my drift.
Neither of these alternatives to once-daily Truvada would hit the market for at least a couple years, he adds, but they are promising, offering safe, accessible, and scalable advancements in the world of HIV treatment and prevention.