A new drug has been released which is supposed to be helpful in the prophylaxis against HIV infections. This one drug, in my opinion, sums up everything that is both good and bad in the pharmaceutical industry. Unless you were alive and sexually active in the mid-to-late 1980s, it’s hard to imagine how devastating HIV was. Unless you are a homosexual male, it is hard to imagine how devastating HIV continues to be.
First the good. This new drug appears to be highly effective at preventing HIV infections. It is possible to reduce the risk of infection by up to 75%. This is clearly good. This combined with safe sex practices should help reduce HIV infections in at-risk populations.
Now, the not so good. One of the problems that the pharmaceutical industry has is that it spends a lot of time and money repackaging old drugs. This new drug, Truvada, is not a new drug in all. Instead, it is a combination of two old drugs. I’m not saying that this combination is not effective. I’m saying that is not new. Secondly, almost everything that comes out of the pharmaceutical industry these days is also ridiculously expensive. This drug, in order to be effective, must be taken every day. Truvada costs approximately $14,000 a year.
So, in summary, we have a drug that appears to be extremely effective at reducing HIV infections if it is taken every day and if the patient can afford $14,000 per year. The cost and the daily regimen seems to really limit the effectiveness of this drug.