Children in the UK infected with HIV have been given a new treatment option following the launch of Johnson & Johnson group Tibtoec’s protease inhibitor Prezista for paedeatric use.

Prezista (darunavir) was first licensed in the UK in February 2007 for the treatment of HIV-1 infected antiviral treatment (ART) naïve and treatment experienced adult patients, but is now also available for use in children in two new, lower-dose 75mg and 150mg formulations, as well as the existing 600mg tablet, which was launched earlier this year to replace the 300mg version and therefore reduce the pill burden from four a day to two (in the appropriate subset of patients).

Approval of the paediatric indication came on the back of a positive 48-week analyses of viral RNA levels and CD4+ cell (white blood cells which help fight infection) counts from the DELPHI a study, in which ART-experienced patients aged six to 18 years given a twice-daily combination of Prezista plus the booster ritonavir and other antiretroviral agents experienced a significant fall in these counts.

According to experts, the availability of a new therapy designed specifically for the 1,100 or so children infected with HIV in the UK is very welcome indeed, particularly as, Dr Gareth Tudor-Williams, Consulting Paediatrician at St. Mary’s Hospital, London, explained, they have far fewer treatment options than adults.

“There are approximately two million children living with HIV worldwide, and this is a welcome addition to the treatments we can use to enable them to survive into productive adulthood,” he said.