The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved a new 4-in-1 pill to fight HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. Stribild, a once-daily medication made by Gilead Sciences, was approved to treat adults with HIV who have not previously been treated for the infection.
Stribild combines two already-approved antiviral drugs, emtricitabine and tenofovir disoproxil fumarate, which are the active ingredients in the HIV treatment Truvada. The pill also includes the new drugs elvitegravir and cobicistat. Elvitegravir works by interfering with one of the enzymes HIV relies on to multiply. Cobicistat helps to lengthen the effect of elvitegravir.
Clinical trials showed that 88 to 90 percent of patients who were given Stribild had an undetectable level of HIV virus in their blood after 48 weeks, compared to 87 percent for patients taking Atripla, another HIV treatment that contains the active ingredients in Truvada plus a third drug.
Stribild has mild side effects such as nausea and diarrhea, but the drug can also cause life threatening adverse events such as severe liver problems and a build-up of lactic acid.
More than a million Americans are infected with HIV. Unless treated with antiviral medications, HIV can develop into AIDS, a disease that weakens the immune system and can lead to serious and fatal infections.
Earlier this year, Gilead Sciences won FDA approval to market Truvada as the first preventative medicine for healthy people who are at high risk of acquiring HIV.