HIV treatment just became less expensive and more convenient for those who have the virus in China.
On Jan. 20, GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) launched Triumeq, its top antiretroviral drug currently available in 50 markets worldwide.
Triumeq’s arrival in China is expected to ease the lives of at least 746,000 people diagnosed with HIV — a figure that has tripled since October 2007. Of this number, 495,000 are receiving antiretroviral therapy, mostly from free public programs.
In the past, treatment options were limited to bottles of different pills. With three active ingredients — dolutegravir, abacavir and lamivudine — Triumeq could be a better choice.
“It poses less drug-drug interaction and has a high barrier to drug resistance. [It] brings a more convenient treatment with high efficacy to Chinese people living with HIV,” Zhang Fujie, of Beijing Ditan Hospital of Capital Medical University, said.
“I am taking three different drugs every day and suffering from the side effects a lot, such as depression, vomiting and gland hyperplasia,” the Global Times quoted a patient with HIV as saying.
The introduction comes five months after the British pharmaceutical company sought approval from the China Food and Drug Administration.
A month’s prescription costs 2,880 yuan ($450), significantly lower than in Hong Kong, Japan, South Korea and Taiwan.
“Once it has reached the entire market, people with HIV will be able to access it in the same way they would other medications,” Song Xinrong, spokesperson for GSK, told Sixth Tone.
GSK expressed its willingness to negotiate with the Chinese government to include the Triumeq in free treatment programs.
“We are working closely with Chinese associations to undertake a series of initiatives, including professional training for HIV/AIDS care personnel, as well as disease prevention and education programmes, to enable Chinese people living with HIV (to) get better support and help,” Thomas Willemsen, general manager of GSK China Pharmaceuticals and Vaccines, said.
Triumeq was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in 2014. It reached $2.2 billion in sales by 2016, according to Caixin Global.