A NEW Aids super-drug could soon be in use in Bahrain, saving patients from having to swallow multiple pills each day.
A combined, all-in-one pill has been created by international pharmaceutical companies and Bahrain is studying which brand may be the best, it was revealed yesterday.
Health authorities say they are aware of the new medication and will import it depending on the needs of patients.
National Aids Prevention Committee head Dr Soumya Al Jowder said authorities were not rushing into introducing the triple-combination pill.
“All our patients are responding well to their current medications. The medications are changed if they move to an advanced stage of the disease,” she said.
“The triple combination therapy, which can be taken once a day, will reduce the number of pills patients consume twice a day.”
Ms Al Jowder said she would not disclose the name of the triple pill that could be available in Bahrain, on the grounds that there was more than one to choose from.
In Bahrain, patients living with HIV/Aids are given three main drugs, which should be consumed at least twice a day.
They are AZT (also known as Retrovir), 3TC (lamivudine or Epivir) and indinavir.
Last week, US-based Gilead Sciences Inc announced phase two of clinical trial of the single-tablet “Quad” regimen of elvitegravir, cobicistat and Truvada for the treatment of HIV infection. The test showed that patients receiving it faced few central nervous system reactions.
Ms Al Jowder said the authorities’ only concern about the triple pill was the possible side-effects.
“Every patient consuming this pill would respond in a different manner,” she said.
“We have patients who have been HIV carriers for 20 years. And those who unfortunately died in less than 10 years,” Ms Al Jowder said.
“So clearly, we are looking at all the factors before we go ahead and place an order to import the triple pill,” she said.
Authorities have registered 48 new HIV positive cases in Bahrain since January.
Of these, 37 were detected among non-Bahrainis, who have been deported.
“Clinical tests revealed 18 females and 19 males, all non-Bahrainis, were HIV positive,” said Ms Al Jowder.
“Eleven cases (nine men and two women) were confirmed as virus carriers.
“A Bahrain couple, who suffer from sickle cell anaemia, were among the two cases detected this year.
“After medical reports, it was confirmed that the two citizens are virus carriers. Their health started to deteriorate this year and both had blood transfusions before 1986,” Ms Al Jowder said.
The man had a blood transfusion in Bahrain, while his wife underwent two surgeries outside the kingdom.
She had her first blood transfusion in 1982 and then in 1983 in a Gulf state, which pre-dates blood screening done today.
The total number of HIV cases detected since 1986 stands at 380.
Of these, 160 patients have since died and 43 have full-blown Aids.