Today, the Food and Drug Administration announced they approved a generic version of Truvada. Truvada (or emtricitabine and tenofovir disoproxil) is an anti-retroviral drug for people who have HIV-1. Truvada also works as a Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) medication — a daily pill can prevent the transmission of HIV by almost 100%.
Generic drugs are much cheaper for the consumer. There is no difference between the generic and the brand name for most drugs. It’s not like getting a store brand of soda that tastes kinda like Coke but weird — the chemical formulation in generic drugs is the same. According to the FDA, 80% of prescriptions filled are for generics. Currently, the wholesale price for a month’s worth of Truvada is $1415. The generic version should make PrEP cheaper and more available to those who need it.
The generic form of Truvada was submitted to the FDA by Teva Pharmaceutical Industries. While Teva specializes mostly in generic drugs, they also make some name brand drugs — including Adderall. Teva is the world’s biggest supplier of generic drugs.
While PrEP is a general term for medicines that can prevent HIV transmission, Truvada is currently the only drug that is recommended by any health organization. However, the market is beginning to widen, there — tests are underway on a new, injectable PrEP drug that lasts for two months.
PrEP has been slowly making its way around the world. Brazil announced that within six months they will begin offering PrEP to their citizens. Other countries which have approved PrEP include Canada, France, Peru, Scotland, South Africa and the United Kingdom.
Despite the efficacy of PrEP, less than 7% of people have been given a prescription for the drug. Some doctors have decided against prescribing the drug out of fears they’ll encourage unsafe behavior. However, education campaigns directed at both the public and doctors will help that. People need to know to ask for PrEP, and doctors need to know it’s not their job to be the morality police.
Featured image by Sturti via iStockPhoto.