This is the VOA Special English Health Report.
The first treatment for H.I.V. in the form of one pill taken once a day is
going to market in the United States. A spokesman for the drug company
Bristol-Myers Squibb says the new product, called Atripla, has already been
shipped to suppliers.
Atripla is the result of some unusual cooperation among drug companies. The
government approved the treatment on July twelfth. Food and Drug Administration
officials had until October to make a decision. But they acted quickly.
Doctors believe a one-pill-a-day plan will be more successful than current
treatments which can involve several pills a day. Patients are less likely to
miss treatments. Missed treatments can help the virus gain resistance to drugs.
Atripla combines three medicines widely used to treat the most common form of
H.I.V., the virus that causes AIDS. One of the three is Sustiva, made by
Bristol-Myers. The other two are Viread and Emtriva, both from Gilead Sciences.
The new tablets are approved for use alone or with other antiretroviral
products to treat adults.
Earlier this year, the New England Journal of Medicine published a study of
Atripla. Gilead paid for the study. Researchers compared the effectiveness of
Atripla to the widely used combination of Sustiva and Combivir, from
They reported that Atripla suppressed virus levels in more patients and with
fewer side effects. A one-month supply in the United States will cost more than
one thousand dollars, the same price as for the separate drugs it contains.
Gilead and Bristol-Myers will jointly market Atripla. AIDS activists praised
the cooperation between drug makers as historic. They also called on them to
provide the treatment to developing nations.
The Bristol-Myers spokesman says his company and Gilead want to do that. They
are currently negotiating with Merck. That company has rights to market the
active substance in Sustiva in a number of countries outside the United States.
The spokesman says the new product could be offered as early as September
through the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief. The plan provides drugs
to fifteen poor countries, mostly in Africa. The Food and Drug Administration
recently approved a two-pill-a-day H.I.V. treatment for use under the emergency
And that's the VOA Special English Health Report, written by Caty Weaver.
Transcripts and archives of our reports are at voaspecialenglish.com. I'm