Cipla, DNDi to jointly develop new drug for HIV-positive infants
21 July 2012
Drugs for Neglected Diseases initiative (DNDi), a not-for-profit research and development (R&D) organisation, today announced a new collaboration with Indian drug manufacturer Cipla to develop and produce an improved first-line antiretroviral (ARV) combination therapy specifically adapted to meet the treatment needs of infants and toddlers living with HIV/AIDS.
Once delivered, the new paediatric ARV combination could help to accelerate the provision of care to the world's youngest children living with HIV/AIDS, who are at very high risk of dying without treatment, a DNDi announced on the eve of the XIX International AIDS Conference in Washington.
An estimated 3.4 million children have HIV/AIDS, but less than a quarter currently have access to antiretroviral therapy (ART), compared with 54 per cent for adults. Without treatment, more than half of children with HIV/AIDS will die before their second birthday, and 80 per cent will die before they turn five, DNDi said in a release.
Current therapeutic options for HIV-positive infants and young children are insufficient in certain key circumstances: although fixed-dose combination dissolvable 'baby pills' (for example Triomune Baby and Junior produced by Cipla in 2007) are used throughout most of Africa, they are not optimal for the youngest children who have very high levels of virus in their blood and have already been exposed to some of these drugs from their mother.
An important alternative drug (lopinavir-ritonavir protease inhibitor) has been used mainly in South Africa, but has problems, including poor taste, impractical multiple liquid preparations that are cumbersome to transport, requirements for refrigeration, high cost, difficulties for caregivers to administer, and negative interactions with tuberculosis (TB) drugs.
The goal of the collaboration between DNDi and Cipla is to develop a 4-in-1 ARV combination product for HIV-infected children under the age of three years, including those who have been exposed to drugs while in the womb, and also those who are co-infected with TB.
''Cipla is fully committed to take its ARV work for children with HIV/AIDS a step further,'' said Dr Yusuf K Hamied, chairman and managing director of Cipla Ltd.