The SA Health Products Regulatory Authority (SAHPRA) has given the nod to a new sweet-tasting combination drug specially designed for infants and children with HIV.
The “4-in-1" formulation was developed by the non-profit Drugs for Neglected Diseases initiative (DNDi) and pharmaceutical firm Cipla, and does not require refrigeration, reports TimesLIVE.
There are 238,000 children under 15 living with HIV in SA – the highest in the world.
The fixed-dose formulation combines the antiretrovirals abacavir, lamivudine, lopinavir and ritonavir. Its developers say it is a significant improvement on protease inhibitor-containing paediatric ARV formulations that South Africa has been using for decades.
The medicine can be used by sprinkling granules from a capsule over soft food like porridge or dissolving it in water or milk.
Until recently, the only WHO-recommended lopinavir-based treatment available for babies and very young children in SA comprised syrup that contained 40% alcohol that required refrigeration.
Paediatric infectious disease specialist Dr Moherndran Archary, who represents child and adolescent interests at the Southern African HIV Clinicians Society, said HIV-positive children had been left behind and only half of them were on treatment.
Worldwide, there are 2.78m children and adolescents living with HIV, with about 88% of them in sub-Saharan Africa. According to Unicef, only 54 have access to treatment.
“Along with other optimal ARV formulations being introduced in SA, the approval of the 4-in-1 is a step towards closing this gap and ending the neglect of children with HIV.”
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