The human immunodeficiency virus or HIV is an epidemic, especially in sub-Saharan Africa. While there is no cure for this disease, it has become crucial to prevent the HIV from taking root in the first place. And there’s a technique named pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP), where you have to take preemptive medicine on a regular basis to lower the chances of getting infected.
Hoping to make the prevention as easy as possible, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is investing $140 million in an Intarcia Therapeutics program to help it develop a tiny implantable drug pump. It’s a matchstick-sized pump that will use Intarcia’s Medici Drug Delivery System. The implantation is an in-house procedure where a trained physician will attach the mini pump just under the dermal layer of the patients. Each pump is able to house 6 or 12 months supplies of the drugs, means you don’t have to remember taking medicine every day.
“There’s a vital need for an HIV/AIDS intervention that allows those at risk to incorporate prevention more easily into their daily lives,” said Sue Desmond-Hellmann, CEO of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
Intarcia is also developing another variant of the pump targeted at type 2 diabetes. It also started the paperwork with the US Food and Drug Administration on commercial use in November.
The company has still to settle which HIV preventive drug to use in the pump. So, it will take several years to perform any practical implementation of this pump. Even after it comes to market, it could take a long way toward lowering the influence or HIV in the developing world, especially sub-Saharan Africa where the HIV epidemic remains a serious problem.