Kenya embarks on injectable ARVs clinical trials

Monday, April 11th, 2022 11:00 | By
ARV drugs. Photo/PD/FILE

Kenya is among two African countries carrying out new clinical trials of two injectable antiretroviral medicines given once every two months.

The injectable medicines are considered better than a combination of daily oral HIV drugs and will aim to tackle the pill burden among people living with HIV/Aids.

The trials, Cabotegravir and Rilpivirine: Efficacy and Safety Study - The CARES Study and sponsored by the Janssen Pharmaceuticals, will examine whether an injectable form of the antiretroviral injected once every two months can safely control viral multiplication.

The trial will also aim to answer whether switching from taking daily ART pills to injectable long-acting RPV +CAB will not reduce the effectiveness of the ART on the participants.

Trials will also be conducted in Uganda and South Africa. “Successful treatment of HIV leads to control of viral multiplication. This success relies on people taking their drugs regularly. The way someone takes their drugs may depend on several factors that include the number of drugs taken, the ease of swallowing them, the number of times they are taken, their taste, as well as the associated side effects among other factors,” said Prof Rena Shah, an infectious disease expert at the hospital who is leading the study.

It is thought that taking medicine by injection will improve people’s lives because they no longer have to swallow medicines every day. It is also expected to deal with the risk of forgetting to swallow pills and may improve the success of the HIV treatment.

This means that instead of daily pills, patients receive intramuscular injections monthly or every two months.

Currently, most HIV drug regimens consist of three different drugs that need to be taken orally daily.

The injected medicines, added Prof Reena, are yet to be evaluated in the rest of Africa where 25.7 million people are living with the virus according to the latest World Health Organisation figures. “This study is looking at using a different way of taking the HIV medicine; using injections of two medicines given once every two months. These injected medicines have worked well in previous studies done in the USA, Europe and South Africa, but have not yet been evaluated in the rest of Africa,” added Prof Reena.

The collaborative study involves eight sites in Africa including Aga Khan University Hospital, Nairobi and will enrol 512 participants –who are already stable on their antiretroviral therapy (ART). Kenya has other two sites Kenya Medical Research Institute (KEMRI) and Academic Model Providing Access to Healthcare (AMPATH).

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