22 March 2018

New medication approved for multidrug-resistant HIV

A small percentage of patients, some of whom have taken many HIV drugs in the past, have multidrug-resistant HIV, limiting their treatment options.


HIV naturally mutates and eventually develops resistance to ARVs, which are then rendered ineffective. Patients infected with drug resistant strains of HIV are therefore commonly moved to alternative regimens known as 2nd line drugs.

HIV resistance to the potent antiretroviral drug tenofovir (Viread) has become increasingly common. 

A new medication, Trogarzo (ibalizumab-uiyk), has however been approved by the US Food and Drug Administration to treat Aids-causing HIV that has not responded to other antiretroviral medications.

A new class of medications

Trogarzo is given intravenously once every 14 days in combination with other antiretroviral drugs, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) said in a news release.

"While most patients living with HIV can be successfully treated using a combination of two or more antiretroviral drugs, a small percentage of patients who have taken many HIV drugs in the past have multidrug resistant HIV, limiting their treatment options," said Dr Jeff Murray, deputy director of the agency's Division of Antiviral Products.

HIV suppression

"Trogarzo is the first drug in a new class of antiretroviral medications that can provide significant benefit to patients who have run out of HIV treatment options," Dr Murray added.

Trogarzo was evaluated in clinical studies involving 40 people who continued to have high levels of HIV, despite use of antiretroviral drugs. After 24 weeks of Trogarzo and other drugs, 43% of trial participants achieved HIV suppression, the FDA said.

The most common adverse reactions to Trogarzo were diarrhoea, dizziness, nausea and rash. More severe side effects included immune system abnormalities.

Image credit: iStock


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HIV/Aids expert

Dr Sindisiwe van Zyl qualified at the University of Pretoria in 2005. She is a patients' rights activist and loves using social media to teach about HIV. She is in private practice in Johannesburg.

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