For Children With HIV, Chewable Meds a New Way to Stay Healthy
Move over, Flintstones Vitamins. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved a new, heat-stable formulation of antiretroviral therapy that can be mixed with food to make it easier for children living with HIV to take, according to a joint press release from UNAIDS and UNICEF. The medication, a combination of lopinavir and ritonavir, which goes by the brand name Kaletra in the U.S., will be manufactured by the generic drug manufacturer CIPLA.
"Treatment innovations such as this that replace unpleasant and bad tasting medicines are a real breakthrough, accelerating access to treatment for children and keeping our youngest healthy," said UNAIDS Executive Director Michel Sidibé, according to the press release. He added, "It is unacceptable that only 24% of children living with HIV have access to antiretroviral medicines."
As we've come to learn, early initiation of antiretroviral treatment is best for all people living with HIV, but especially young children within whom HIV infection often progresses rapidly and is a major contributor to illness and death in countries where HIV prevalence is high.
Without treatment, one in three children living with HIV will die before their first birthday, while half will die before reaching age 2, according to UNICEF. Many countries have been unable to implement the World Health Organization recommendation that children receive early treatment with antiretrovirals in part because of not having a palatable pediatric drug that is heat stable, which this new formulation will address.
The press release did not mention any plans to make palatable formulations of other existing HIV medications, or how to address the problems with palatability and treatment access worldwide for adults.