Indian drug maker Cipla is developing the first “user-friendly” pediatric HIV/AIDS drug designed to be palatable for African children, according to a report in Business Standard.
Cipla is working with the Switzerland-based Drugs for Neglected Diseases initiative to produce a more palatable, effective and easy way to administer pediatric HIV drugs for African children, who currently must use a combination of drugs to manage the condition, the report says.
Two-thirds of people living with HIV/AIDS are in Sub-Saharan Africa, with 91 percent of all new infections in children, according to Drugs for Neglected Diseases.
Without treatment a third of infected children die in their first year, half by age 2, and 80 percent by age 5. The Cipla drug is undergoing clinical tests in South Africa, according to Business Standard.
“The available medications for infected children in the market today are not suitable for children. They taste bad, care givers have to crush the tablet on a hard surface and are generally not easy to administer,” said Drugs For Neglected Diseases Director Marcel Tanner in the report.
Africa has 3.4 million children under 15 with HIV and almost 200,000 are born infected each year. Fewer than 30 percent have access to antiretroviral drugs, according to Business Standard.
The new drug will control multiplication of the HIV virus in the body and prevent tuberculosis, the most common and deadly infection among HIV patients, Tanner said in the report. It will be packaged in a granule-filled capsule.
“We had to pick a company that understands the conditions in the developing world,” Tanner said in the report. Cipla was chosen partly due to its reputation for making affordable medicines for the poor in the developing world, and for its experience manufacturing antiretrovirals.