The Indian generic drug manufacturer, Cipla (Chemical, Industrial and Pharmaceutical Laboratories) has announced the development of a new strawberry-flavored antiretroviral therapy (HIV medicine) which experts claim could save the lives of thousands of children each year.
The new drug, named Quadrimune, comes in strawberry-flavored granules the size of sugar grains and can either be sprinkled over baby food or mixed with water or milk, making the formula much more palatable for young children.
“We have been eagerly waiting for child-friendly medicines that are easy to use and good to taste,” said Winnie Byanyima, the new executive of UNAIDS. “This is excellent news for all children living with HIV.”
Quadrimune is made up of four recommended antiretroviral drugs and most importantly, because the medicine ships in a powder form, it doesn’t require any refrigeration. This is especially important in Africa where electricity is never a guarantee and temperatures can reach into the high 40°C.
Critically, the new pediatric formula will cost around R14 ($1) per day for a child weighing between 9kg and 13kg and only R8 ($50c) a day for younger children. Unfortunately, while these prices may sound like a great deal for most people, that will still be a stiff price for many families affected by the virus.
Quadrimune is currently still under review by the FDA. Should the drug receive FDA (Food and Drugs Administration) approval it will inevitably lead to certification by WHO (World Health Organization), which could be a key step in wider distribution of the drug to parts of Africa that need it most. Cipla hopes to receive a decision by the end of May 2020.
Feature Image: Drugs for Neglected Diseases Initiative