Nigeria and six other African countries will receive the first-ever HIV generic drug for babies in the first half of 2021.
This is according to UNITAID – global health initiative that works with partners to bring about innovations to prevent, diagnose, and treat major diseases in low-and middle-income countries, with an emphasis on tuberculosis, malaria, and HIV/AIDS, and its deadly co-infections.
UNITAID noted that the drug, a strawberry-flavoured tablet, is the first generic pediatric version of a key anti-retroviral available, even for babies, and will be rolled out in African countries in 2021.
What you should know
- According to UNITAID, about 1.7 million children worldwide live with HIV, but only half receive any treatment – often hard to administer due to the bitter taste or incorrectly dosed by crushing adult pills.
- About 100,000 children die of AIDS annually.
- The first-line HIV treatment is recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO) from the age of four weeks and 3 kilos (6.6 pounds), but it had been out of reach for babies because of the lack of appropriate formulations.
- UNITAID and the Clinton Health Access Initiative have reached a pricing agreement with the generic drug makers Viatris and Macleods for the dispersible pediatric formulation of dolutegravir (DTG).
In this context, UNITAID maintained “the estimated cost for combination therapy will now be some $120 for a child’s annual treatment, against $480 currently, making it a ‘game-changer’ for poorer countries.”
What they are saying
UNITAID spokesman, Herve Verhoosel, told Geneva news briefing that, “For many of those children, the HIV virus is not suppressed due in part to lack of availability of effective drugs that are palatable and properly adapted for them.”
According to Verhoosel, “Benin, Kenya, Malawi, Nigeria, Uganda and Zimbabwe are due to receive the first tablets in the first half of 2021.”