European regulators have approved the once-a-day HIV pill Atripla, which combines three existing drugs (efavirenz, tenofovir and emtricitabine). The pill will soon be available to HIV patients in a number of European countries, BBC News reports.
Atripla was approved in the United States in July last year and is now given to about half of all newly diagnosed HIV patients.
Early HIV drug therapy required patients to take as many as 30 pills on an empty stomach at different times, BBC News reported. That had been reduced to just several pills a day for newly-diagnosed HIV patients. This new pill further simplifies the mediation regimen.
Atripla was developed through a collaboration of three drug makers - Gilead Sciences, Bristol-Myers Squibb and Merck.
"This is a big advance for patients. It almost normalises HIV," says Dr Simon Portsmouth, a leading HIV consultant.
Atripla is not yet available in South Africa.
Even though a generic version of Atripla could be brought to market in South Africa relatively quickly, regulatory delays and licensing difficulties are likely to significantly delay the process.