National, News

First long-acting HIV medication listed on PBS

ViiV Healthcare Australia has welcomed the announcement that Cabenuva has been listed on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) as the first long-acting treatment for Australians living with HIV.

The injection, given just six times a year, will be subsidised for virologically suppressed adults living with HIV-1 without known or suspected resistance to cabotegravir or rilpivirine to maintain viral suppression. 

The development is important for the almost 30,000 Australians living with HIV, many of whom take medications daily.

The Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee said that some people who had issues adhering to a daily regimen would potentially have improved quality of life from the long-acting injectable option.

Dr David Baker, leading GP in the treatment of people living with HIV from East Sydney Doctors, said the addition of Cabenuva to the PBS may help reduce the burden of the disease on people living with HIV.

“Over the last 20 years, we’ve made great progress in developing effective treatments for HIV that can suppresses the virus in the body to undetectable levels,” said Dr Baker. 

“The introduction of a long-acting injectable treatment means that eligible people living with HIV will only need to be treated every two months, rather than every day. 

“This approach has the potential to help lessen the burden of treatment and reduce the worry and stigma that comes with having to take treatments daily.”

Scott Harlum, President of the National Association for People with HIV in Australia (NAPWHA), said that such treatment innovations can help people to adhere to their treatment regimes. 

“This, in turn, helps ensure people with HIV are able to maintain an undetectable viral load, which is both good for their own health, but also eliminates any risk of transmission of HIV,” he said.

Dr Fraser Drummond, Medical Director at ViiV Healthcare Australia, said the reimbursement of Cabenuva represents a shift in the way HIV is treated by offering people living with HIV a new approach to care.

“Long-acting HIV treatments have the potential to reduce the fear of disclosure and the anxiety of having to remember to take a pill every day,” said Dr Drummond.

“ViiV Healthcare is dedicated to ensuring no one living with HIV is left behind. 

“Adding this first-of-its-kind regimen to our portfolio of innovative medicines in Australia shows how committed we are to this mission.”

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