The next HIV breakthrough? Glaxo, J&J's long-acting shot as effective as 3-pill daily combo
- Johnson & Johnson and GlaxoSmithKline announced on Tuesday that an investigational long-acting shot for treatment of HIV suppressed the virus just as effectively as a daily triple-pill combo.
- In the trial, patients were injected with rilpivirine and cabotegravir on either a monthly or bi-monthly basis, and these injections were just as effective in blocking HIV as an oral combination including a pill formulation of cabotegravir.
- J&J and Glaxo are already hailing this as a potential paradigm shift for HIV treatment that could ensure compliance and ease patients' medication regimens. Patients in the trial who received the injections actually demonstrated more virus suppression than those taking daily pills. In fact, trial participants receiving the monthly injections had a 94% suppression rate versus a 95% suppression rate for the bimonthly injections and 91% for oral med users.
Now for the caveats: There may still be a fair amount of progress to be made before this treatment approach becomes as popular as one-to-three pill regimens currently used to treat HIV. J&J pharma head Paul Stoffels said on a conference call Tuesday that in its current formulation, the injections require too high of a dose in order for patients to administer the treatment by themselves.
But as he pointed out, this could be the latest in a series of stunning progress that's made in tackling the virus over the past 30 years. "Going from many pills a day... to now one pill, to now one injection every two months is, I think, a huge medical technical achievement," said Stoffels on the conference call.
The companies said they would like to see the treatment come to market "well before 2020," and it could wind up being another major success for Glaxo's Viiv Healthcare unit.