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[ MAIN ]MEDICAL & HEALTHCAREPHARMACEUTICALS

‘Generic HIV Drugs, Cheaper But Less Effective’

Any rise in the use of cheaper, non-branded HIV drugs could see more patients with treatment failure, doctors warn. Soon-to-be available generic medicines could save the US health care system nearly $1bn a year, they say in the journal, Annals of Internal Medicine.

But trial data suggests generic drugs might be slightly less effective. And they require users to take three daily pills instead of one, increasing the risk some patients may miss doses. The doctors calculate reduced treatment efficacy could result in 4.4 months of life lost per patient lifetime.

The currently recommended treatment for newly diagnosed patients is a single pill (Atripla) taken daily that combines three brand-name antiretrovirals – tenofovir (Viread), emtricitabine (Emtriva) and efavirenz (Sustiva).

A generic form of a drug that has a similar mechanism of action to emtricitabine became available in January 2012, and a generic version of efavirenz is expected in the relatively near future. Patients could soon take these two less expensive generic drugs alongside the brand drug tenofovir.

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