The USA’s biopharmaceutical research companies are currently developing 44 medicines and vaccines for HIV/AIDS treatment and prevention, according to the latest Medicines in Development report by the trade group Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA).
A second report, a PhRMA-sponsored white paper by Boston Healthcare Associates (BHA), The Value of Innovation in HIV/AIDS Therapy, highlights the progress in HIV/AIDS treatment and its impact on patients afflicted with the disease.
Both reports are being released in conjunction with PhRMA’s 2014 Multiple medical advancements have taken place since 1981, when the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention identified the first five cases of HIV/AIDS. Since anti-retroviral treatments (ART) were approved in 1995, HIV/AIDS-related deaths in the USA have dropped by 83%, resulting in a 32% decline in HIV/AIDS-related hospitalizations. These medicines are improving overall care for patients and are helping to prevent costs associated with treating the disease. According to a University of Chicago study, HIV/AIDS patients today live 15 years longer than in the 1980s.
HIV/AIDS now a chronic, manageable disease, not a death sentence
“Over the past 35 years, HIV/AIDS has gone from a death sentence to a chronic, manageable disease thanks in large part to advances in biopharmaceutical research,” said PhRMA president and chief executive John Castellani, adding: “Despite the progress that has been made, researchers are continuing the fight against HIV/AIDS and, with more than 40 medicines in the pipeline, there is more hope than ever that a cure can be achieved.”
Currently, biopharmaceutical companies are focused on improved treatment regimens, more effective therapies and preventive vaccines that are either in clinical trials or awaiting review by the Food and Drug Administration. The 44 medicines and vaccines in the development pipeline include 25 antivirals, 16 vaccines and three cell/gene therapies. Examples include:
- a first-in-class medicine intended to prevent HIV from breaking through the cell membrane;
- a cell therapy that modifies a patient’s own cells in an attempt to make them resistant to HIV; and,
- a therapeutic vaccine designed to induce responses from T cells that play a role in immune protection against viral infections.
Today, there are 94 active clinical trials for HIV medicines and vaccines in the USA. Of those, 43 have not yet started recruiting patients or have recently begun seeking participants. Therapies being investigated involve attachment inhibitors, gene modification and inducing T cell responses, among others. The development of new, innovative therapies would not be possible without the patients who volunteer to participate in clinical trials. These trials, in combination with the promising new scientific approaches researchers are using, build on the progress against HIV infection.
According to the Value of Innovation in HIV/AIDS Therapy report, advances in treatment, including the Pre-Exposure Prophylactic (PrEP) method, have built upon each other over time, yielding better results for patients through use of medicines earlier and in combination. Recent research has revealed that many of these therapies are effective in preventing the transmission of the virus. Both national and international guidelines now recommend PrEP use of medicines as part of a comprehensive HIV prevention plan in populations that are disproportionately impacted by HIV.