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"If we're going to reduce the more than 50,000 new HIV infections in this country each year, we need to increase the available options for people," said Ronald Johnson, AIDS United's vice president.
But support for FDA approval is not unanimous.
Although the FDA is legally barred from considering cost when reviewing drugs, health care providers have raised concerns about Truvada's price tag: $900 a month, or just under $11,000 per year. Medicare and Medicaid, the nation's largest health insurance plans, generally cover drugs approved by the FDA, and analysts expect most large health insurers to follow suit.
Additionally, some researchers say the prevention pill is not the chemical equivalent of condoms, which they say remain the best weapon against AIDS. They also worry about Truvada's mixed success rate in preventing infection among women: Last year, a study in women was stopped early after researchers found that women taking the drug were more likely to become infected than those taking placebo.
Researchers speculated that women may require a higher dose of the drug to prevent infection. They also said the disappointing results may have resulted from women not taking the pills consistently.
"We know that if the person doesn't take the medication every day they will not be protected," said Dr. Rodney Wright, director of HIV programs at Montefiore Medical Center in New York and chairman of the AIDS Health Foundation. "So the concern is that there may not be adequate adherence to provide protection in the general population."
Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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