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New pill simplifies HIV patient treatment

A new antiretroviral treatment currently available in Europe and North America will be available in Australia from January 1, combining three existing medicines in one tablet.

Atripla — which controls HIV by stopping the virus multiplying — will be included on the pharmaceutical benefits scheme (PBS), cutting costs for HIV patients and simplifying treatment.

National Centre in HIV Epidemiology and Clinical Research, University of NSW director Professor David Cooper welcomed the treatment and urged drug companies to continue combination medicine development.

“It’s about making things simpler for patients. In the mid-’90s, patients were taking up to 20 pills a day. Now it’s very much simplified and they’re able to take one pill, once a day,” Cooper told Sydney Star Observer.

“It’s about simplification and if you’re going to be on a drug for life, then taking one pill a night, just before you go to bed, is helpful.”
HIV patients on the three specific doses included in the ATRIPLA tablet will now be able to take one pill daily, instead of the usual two.
“This [treatment] is one of the most common. There are lots of other combinations we use [to treat HIV] that we don’t have the advantage of co-formulation, and it’d be really good if other drug companies got together and tried to co-formulate [others],” Cooper said.

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