A new drug, currently in use by the Ladymeade Reference Unit (LRU), is offering more ease to persons living with HIV (PLHIV).

This was revealed today by Senior Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Anton Best, who stated that the new drug, Atripla, which has been in use in the United States (US), since July 2006, was first obtained in Barbados in January of this year.

“We are particularly pleased to get this drug at an extremely competitive price. The drug cost to the Government is less than 20% of its whole sale price in the US! The average cost of it is US $105 or about BDS $208 per person per month.”

Noting that Atripla was the first single-tablet drug regimen for HIV, Dr. Best acknowledged: “It is actually a combination of three different anti-HIV drugs or anti-retrovirals, so it is quite significant in terms of getting patients to adhere to medication, as they are only going to have to take one tablet a day instead of many tablets.”

He further explained: “Traditionally, you would have to take at least three different drugs, in three separate sets of tablets, for the treatment of HIV. There are about 28 different anti-HIV drugs, which are approved by the Food and Drug Administration in the US. The combination of at least three different anti-HIV drugs, previously referred to as ‘the cocktail’, is known as Highly Active Anti-Retroviral Therapy.”

Essentially Atripla is three potent anti-HIV drugs all in one tablet that can be taken once a day.

The Senior Medical Officer of Health disclosed that for persons taking this drug it is the only one-a-day anti-HIV regimen that “they can actually be on” and this is especially important for those patients in whom adherence to the regimen may be challenging. Adherence is of utmost importance, and the lower the amount of tablets one has to take for HIV as with other chronic diseases the better their adherence is likely to be.”

Dr. Best emphasised that the drug was free for all Barbadians who are HIV+ and who attend the LRU, the clinic responsible for the medical care of PLHIV. He said, to date, many patients who recently started treatment for HIV have been placed on Atripla and the results have been satisfactory.

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