FDA Approves Edible Pellets For HIV Positive Kids


By Nigel Boys

Young children living with HIV have not been able to get antiretroviral treatments at the rate of their adult counterparts, with less than 25 percent in low and middle-income countries receiving the treatment, as compared to 37 percent of adults, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). Fewer than 800,000 of the 3.2 million children living with HIV worldwide had access to treatment in 2013.

However, UNICEF reported on Friday that this will hopefully change with new edible pellets that have just been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

The edible antiretroviral formulation pellets can easily be mixed with food and are heat stable, which means they will be especially helpful to children under the age of 3 affected by HIV in poverty stricken countries, the humanitarian group reports.

“Treatment innovations such as this that replace unpleasant and bad tasting medicines are a real breakthrough, accelerating access to treatment for children and keeping our youngest healthy,” said Michel Sidibé, executive director of UNAIDS in a press release. “It is unacceptable that only 24 percent of children living with HIV have access to antiretroviral medicines.”

According to WHO, around 35 million people are living with HIV and about 12.9 million, or 37 percent, had access to antiretroviral treatments in 2013.

Although the new edible pellets will not put an end to children suffering from HIV, it’s a good start on the way to getting them more help, according to Craig McClure, UNICEF’s chief of HIV and AIDS and associate director of programmes.

“This new formulation is a step in the right direction towards saving more lives of children living with HIV,” McClure continued. “We expect it to greatly improve treatment access for many more children and support UNICEF’s equity focused programming aimed at reaching the most disadvantaged children throughout the world.”

UNICEF reports that one in three children who become infected with HIV will die before their first birthday and half will die before their second, because the infection progresses more rapidly among young children, especially in highly impacted countries.

AVERT, formerly known as the AIDS Education and Research Trust, an international AIDS charity based in Horsham, U.K., reports that several challenges remain in implementing universal access to treatment. These include: widespread awareness of the value of testing and subsequent treatment; life-long commitment to antiretroviral drugs and supporting patients to adhere to a daily regimen; adequate health infrastructure, including health staff; and supply chains of effective drugs.

There’s still a long way to go, but at least these new edible pellets and their FDA approval is a step in the right direction.




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