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The BBC's Karen Allen
"It is an extra weapon in the fight against AIDS"
 real 56k

Tuesday, 16 January, 2001, 04:44 GMT
Drug simplifies living with HIV
hiv pills
Combination treatments can involve 15 pills every day
A new treatment for the Aids virus - which will significantly reduce the number of pills patients have to take - becomes available on Tuesday.

Trizivir is the first treatment to combine three proven and established HIV therapies - zidovudine, lamivudine and abacavir.

Its manufacturers, pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline, says the treatment will cost just over 580 a month - the same price as if the three drugs were taken separately.

It means I will comply and adhere a lot more easily than I currently do

Craig Adams

The convenient way the dose can be taken - only one tablet twice a day - is designed to reduce the number of people who give up on treatment.

And unlike some other HIV regimes it has no dietary restrictions, so patients can eat and drink without any complications.

Combination treatments

More so than with any other condition, taking HIV medicine as prescribed is crucial for therapy to continue to be effective.

But more than a quarter of people on combination treatments fail to stick to complex plans which involve taking up to 15 pills every day.

Trizivir has already been approved for use in Mexico, Switzerland, Chile, Ghana and Malawi.

It went on sale in the United States at the end of last year and will be rolled out in other European countries in the coming months.

Dr David Gordon, a medical advisor at GlaxoSmithKline, told the BBC: "HIV therapy is a fairly complex thing. We were asking patients to take a combination of usually at least three different drugs, and that often involves taking a large number of tablets with dietary restrictions.

"To get a true effect from these drugs you have take almost all of them in the right way at the right time, and I think we were being a bit unrealistic in the past expecting patients to be able to comply and take these drugs entirely in the way that they were prescribed by doctors."

Dr Gordon said HIV therapy had to be personalised for individual patients, but said that trizivir would be suitable for a lot of patients.

Craig Adams is HIV positive and currently has to take a total of 17 tablets every day as part of his drugs routine.

He says taking one tablet just twice a day will mean he's more likely to stick to the treatment.

"The fact that they have managed to combine as many pills as I am currently taking down into one pill will make it easier for me to take my combination on a daily basis.

"It means I will comply and adhere a lot more easily than I currently do."

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15 Nov 00 | Business
US approves Glaxo HIV drug
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