WASHINGTON, July 10 (UPI) -- A quarter-century after the first cases were reported -- and a decade after the first multi-dose regimen brought real hope -- a once-daily pill to combat AIDS is on the horizon.
The pill is a combination of two existing anti-HIV drugs, Truvada (already a mix of two Rx's) and Sustiva, manufactured respectively by Gilead and Bristol-Myers Squibb. The Wall Street Journal reports that the collaboration, despite "a complicated history ... managed to forge one of the first ventures in which drug makers have combined their propriety AIDS drugs into a single pill."
Approval by the Food and Drug Administration is expected soon. While AIDS has resisted a "cure" or vaccine, a one-pill regimen to suppress the HIV virus suggests how much progress has been made since the first AIDS cases were reported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in 1981.
The advent of anti-retroviral "cocktails" a decade ago turned HIV disease into a chronic condition rather than a death sentence for many in developed countries but still required up to three dozen pills a day. One slip could breed drug resistance.
In other news from the prescription-drug front:
-- Britain's PowderMed is asking regulators to approve clinical trials for an avian-flu vaccine.
-- The FDA approved an anti-smoking pill, Champix, by Pfizer.
-- Another Pfizer drug, Exubera, is expected to be launched this month. The Boston Globe says that for diabetics, the device will be "the biggest change in treatment in years: Instead of injecting themselves with insulin, they can start breathing it from an inhaler."
Cambridge-based Alkermes Inc. is already developing a quicker, smaller inhaler, the Globe reports.
-- Not every healthcare treatment needs to be quite so high-tech. The BBC is reporting a new study that concludes dolls and teddy bears can help patients with Alzheimer's disease.
"The team from Newcastle General Hospital studied the benefits of dolls after seeing how one patient bonded with a teddy bear from her son," the Beeb said. "Patients bond with and care for the dolls, and staff found the toys gave them something to talk about."