Despite oppositions, Health Canada has approved the manufacture and sale of Truvada, an HIV prevention drug, across the country.
Gilead Sciences Canada, the maker of Truvada, on Monday announced the recent decision from Canada’s health bureau, the CBC News reports. The drug, which costs $1,000 a month, is a pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP), which has to be taken once daily.
Norbert Bischofberger, Gilead Sciences CEO, said they welcomed the decision of Health Canada, adding that it’s a major leap toward prevention of HIV. The company claims that the drug, if taken together with safe sex practice and condom use, could lower the risk of contracting HIV.
Together with the approval of Truvada, Health Canada also included in its order that patients should undergo an HIV screening before enrolling to the treatment, frequent follow-up treatment while under Truvada, use of condoms, and treatment of STD, if applicable. HIV is the virus that causes Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS).
Dr. Isaac Bogoch, an infectious disease expert from the University Health Network, said that the next logical step for the government to take is to widen the coverage of the medicine. He said that the treatment should reach individuals and families who need it most.
“There’s no reason for people who need HIV prevention care to be seen in a big referral hospital. This care should be done in the community and those settings,” Bogoch was quoted as saying by CBC News.
Amid the monumental development in the fight against the virus in Canada, a recent report from Conference on Retrovirus and Opportunistic Infections (CROI) mentions the first man in Canada to have contracted HIV while under the Truvada treatment.
Data from the World Health Organization (WHO) shows that a total of 37 million people are living with HIV in the world. In 2015, around 16 million of this number is receiving antiretroviral treatment. Meanwhile, a 2012 data from the Public Health Agency of Canada reveal that there were about 71,300 people living with HIV in Canada, around 25 percent of which are unaware of this condition.