HIV patients in the UK will now be able to take three medicines in just one pill following the launch of Bristol-Myers Squibb and Gilead’s Atripla, just a few days after Europe opened its doors to the drug.

Atripla is the first once-daily, triple therapy for HIV-1 that is delivered in a single tablet, offering a three-pronged attack on the virus through a combination of BMS’ Sustiva (efavirenz) and Gilead's Emtriva (emtricitabine) and Viread (tenofovir). The drug was first launched onto the US market in July last year, and made third-quarter sales of $241.1 million.

The companies hope that the extra convenience this treatment offers to patients – as well as the fact that it incorporates one of the most widely-used antiretroviral regimens for newly-diagnosed patients – will signal a “new era” of HIV therapy.

“The availability of an effective HIV treatment in a single pill requiring a once-daily dose is a welcome advance in the management of the condition,” commented Professor Brian Gazzard, Clinical Research Director, Chelsea and Westminster Hospital, London.

Convenience and adherence benefits
“Not only does Atripla offer the patient more convenience, it also helps adherence. This is important because inadequate adherence, often associated with a more complex pill burden, can lead to a patient developing resistance and needing to switch to a different treatment, in turn limiting future therapy options,” he explained.

A spokesperson for BMS told PharmaTimes UK News that Atripla will be available at a National Health Service list price in line with that of Sustiva and Truvada, which equates to around £630 for 30 pills.

HIV is the fastest growing serious health condition in the UK, with around 89,000 cases reported since the early 1980s, highlighting the urgent need for effective therapies to control the condition.