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MSD trials long lasting PrEP implant for preventing HIV

Published on 23/07/19 at 05:07pm

MSD is trialling an implant that prevents patients from contracting HIV, The Guardian has said.

The US firm has tested a long duration pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) implant in 12 healthy adults over a period of 12 weeks.

In trialling the tolerability of the drug, patients were given implants containing either 54mg or 62mg doses of the drug islatravir.

Investigators then monitored the concentrations of islatravir in patients’ blood over a period of 16 weeks. Four of those involved in the trial were given placebo implants. Of the 16 patients involved in the trial, 14 were men.  

The researchers found the drug was well tolerated, while modelling of drug concentration data showed the implant could last for at least eight months at a dose of 54mg and at least a year at the higher 62mg dose.

Randy Matthews, a researcher at MSD, said: “Further trials will examine implants with different doses and different makeup, and with plans to conduct evaluations in larger populations. It is still early days – the eventual price of the implant is not yet known.”

Dr Timothy Hildebrandt from the London School of Economics, added: “The trial appears to offer a long-promised alternative delivery system for PrEP – which, all else equal, is a good thing. As we’ve learned from contraception, having a wider variety of delivery options should increase usage of PrEP.”

Sheena McCormack, a professor of clinical epidemiology at University College London, said: “This is an exciting development. Pills are very acceptable here, but for various reasons less so in sub-Saharan Africa, and this is particularly the case amongst young women.”

“An implant is likely to be much more acceptable, as they are increasingly used for contraception in this setting. Consequently the provider skills will already be in place when this product emerges from clinical trials, and so I see a very promising future.”

Louis Goss

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