From extending lifespan to bolstering the immune system, the drug’s effects are only just beginning to be understood.
Patent expirations of one HIV drugs will make the disease cheaper—but also more cumbersome—to treat.
August 16, 2012|
This year, the United States is expected to spend nearly $15 billion on healthcare for HIV patients, which still doesn’t cover all of the patients who need treatment. But those costs are expected to decrease in the next few years as the patents for brand-name antiretrovirals expire.
“AIDS, as we currently know it, may become much more affordable,” John Bartlett, an infectious-disease researcher at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, told Nature.
The three-in-one antiretroviral Atripla is considered the go-to first line therapy for HIV and is made up of two drugs made by Gilead Sciences and one by Bristol-Myers Squibb (BMS). While only one component from this cocktail, BMS’s efavirenz, will go off patent next year, a second component already has a readily available generic substitute. The cost saving from these two drugs is estimated to save $920 million in the first year.
Although it will be more cumbersome for patients to take three pills per day instead of one, and as a result, they might be more likely to forget or skip doses, most advocates agree that that giving more people access to the medication is worth the trade-off.