Vanguard (Lagos)

4 December 2012

Nigeria: MSD Introduces New HIV Drug, Atripla

AS part of the efforts to meet the Anti-Retroviral, ARV, drugs requirements of Nigerians living with HIV, MSD, one of the world’s healthcare leaders, weekend launched into the Nigerian market its innovative antiretroviral, ARV, drug – Atripla – a prescription medication used to treat HIV-1 infection in adults and children of at least 12 years of age.

A combination of three HIV medicines - Efavirenz, Emtricitabine and Tenofovir disoproxil fumarate - Atripla is currently the only one pill daily HIV regimen for HIV management and it is proven to lower HIV load to undetectable levels while helping to raise T-cell (CD4+) count to help control HIV through three years of a clinical study in patients new to the therapy.

Currently, less than one third of 1.5 million Nigerians requiring ARVs are able to access treatment currently while only 20 percent of the population has access to quality drug.

MSD recently opened office in Nigeria to address health challenges by ensuring availability of quality and affordable drugs in the country and neighbouring West African countries.

Disclosing the development on World AIDS Day 2012, the Commercial Director, MSD West Africa, Mr. Kingsley said bringing Atripla to Nigeria is consistent with MSD's commitment to register the innovative treatment for HIV broadly. Atripla is recommended in Nigeria guidelines for the treatment of HIV.

"Our commitment is to get the right medicines to the right people in the right place and we will achieve this by focusing on bringing medications and vaccines to Nigeria to address unmet medical needs.

We have set our number goal to be the number one healthcare partner in Nigeria in scaling up access to healthcare services and medicines," he remarked.

Endorsing the product, Head Clinical of Services Department of the Institute of Human Virology Nigeria, IHVN, at the University of Maryland, Prof. Ernest Ekong, noted that each component in Atripla has been shown to be effective and has a well established tolerability profile in HIV patients.

Ekong, said: "This one pill a day treatment for HIV is already globally available and represents a simplification of dosing which is important as patients remain on the therapy longer.

He said more than three million Nigerians are currently living with HIV but 1.5 million are confirmed eligible for ARVs.

Ekong who noted that urban prevalence of HIV was higher than rural prevalence in Nigeria, further said: "Sub-Saharan Africa remains most severely affected, with nearly 1 in every 20 seconds (4.9 percent) living with HIV and accounting for 69 percent of the people living with HIV worldwide. Although the regional prevalence of HIV infection is nearly 25 times higher in Sub-Saharan Africa than in Asia, almost 5 million people are living with HIV in South-South-East and East Asia combined. 08126440209

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