What Can Go Wrong with a Proven, FDA Panel-Approved Anti-HIV Drug?

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Truvada is the first drug proven to prevent HIV infection (by up to 73 percent in some cases) and it's won an endorsement by an FDA advisement panel, which means it's expected to get full FDA approval by June 15. Obviously it's a landmark step in our fight against the AIDS epidemic, so why are health officials and heads of AIDS organizations freaking out?  

As the BBC reports, Truvada is already FDA-approved and during studies for people living with HIV, has shown to reduce infections by 73 percent (90 percent says Reuters), and won an endorsement by the FDA's Antiviral Drugs Advisory Committee in favor of prescribing the drug to "highest risk group - non-infected men who have sex with multiple male partners."  And that 73-90 percent effectiveness is a good thing unless you, say, skip a pill here and there (leading to drug-resistant strains of HIV) or as some officials worry--use the pill instead of condoms and safe sex practices.

"Truvada needs to be taken every day, 100% of the time, and my experience as a registered nurse tells me that won't happen," said Nurse Karen Haughey in the BBC's report. "In my eight years, not one patient that I've cared for has been 100% adherent."  Haughey was backed, as Reuters reports, by Dr. Catherine Chien of the nonprofit AIDS Healthcare foundation, who added, "They'll take the drug when they think they need it.



This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.