By Alex Bollinger
The Food and Drug Administration just approved a new drug that can be used as PrEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis) to prevent the transmission of HIV.
PrEP is a medication regimen that has been shown to be 99% effective in preventing HIV transmission if taken daily. Up until now, the only drug approved for that use is Truvada, which was approved in 2012.
On Thursday, the FDA approved Descovy as a medication to prevent the transmission of HIV in men and transgender women who have sex with men. The approval did not extend to use by people assigned female at birth due to a lack of research into effectiveness in this population.
Descovy has been shown in clinical trials to be less harmful to users’ kidneys and bones than Truvada when used over a long term, and it has been shown to be as effective as Truvada in preventing the transmission of HIV.
The pharmaceutical corporation behind both of them – Gilead – is expected to try to move people from Truvada to Descovy this year because Truvada’s patent runs out next year, which means cheaper generic versions of Truvada should be available, and insurance plans will be more likely to cover the drug.