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FDA Approves New Pill 'Truvada' to Combat HIV, but AIDS Group Protests

| by Michael Allen

A daily pill, Truvada, to protect people at risk of HIV from infection has been approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Truvada will be available to people at extreme risk of HIV because their partners are infected. A study, recently published in the New England Journal of Medicine, found a 75% protection rate in the couples where the uninfected partner took Truvada.

A year's supply will cost $14,000, far more than what developing countries currently pay, a $100 a year, per the decision of the manufacturer, Gilead Sciences.

But the FDA announcement of approval wasn't all good news, according to the AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF), which said evidence published recently showed the drug could possibly cause kidney damage.

AHF also argued Truvada should not be given without an HIV test to ensure the person taking the pills is not already infected; otherwise the virus could become resistant to the drug.

Michael Weinstein, AHF president, told the Guardian.co.uk that the FDA decision was "completely reckless and a move that will ultimately set back years of HIV prevention efforts."

"From the beginning, we believe there was a rush to judgment by government officials and others in favor of such approval despite decidedly mixed studies offered in support. The FDA's move today is negligence bordering the equivalence of malpractice which will sadly result in new infections, drug resistance and serious side effects among many, many people."

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