Trending News Today: Antiretroviral Shot Could Revolutionize HIV Treatment Landscape

Top news of the day from across the health care landscape.

Congressional Democrats presented a 3-pronged approach yesterday to lower the cost of prescription medications by penalizing drug price hikes, according to Politico. The plan is part of the Democrats’ new economic agenda that would create an independent, Senate-confirmed price gouging enforcer who would target drugs with unconscionable price increases, according to Politico. Furthermore, manufacturers will be slapped with fines that are proportional to the size of the price increase, and the fines will be paid to National Institutes of Health to increase its work on new drug development, reported Politico. Polls have shown that drug pricing is the top health policy concern among both Democrats and Republicans.

The CDC updated its recommendations regarding the testing of pregnant women for the Zika virus, reported the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy (CIDRAP). The new guidance emphasizes that health providers should continue to ask pregnant women about possible Zika exposure and symptoms of the virus before and during the pregnancy at each prenatal visit. According to the report, nucleic acid and serologic testing are still recommended for symptomatic pregnant women within 12 weeks of disease onset. But for asymptomatic women with ongoing possible exposure, frequently used tests that detect immunoglobulin B antibodies is no longer recommend because it is more likely to yield a false-positive result. The CDC notes that nucleic acid testing should be offered at the start of prenatal care in areas with ongoing possible Zika transmission, with follow-up testing based on local Zika transmission trends, CIDRAP reported.

A long-acting antiretroviral shot could shake up the HIV landscape for the better, according to The Washington Post. The development of antiretroviral drugs has transformed HIV from what was once a death sentence to now allowing patients to keep the virus under control; however, adherence poses a challenge for many patients. The latest advancements in the development of a long-acting antiretroviral shot could be the solution to this long-term treatment problem. The international study included 309 patients with HIV administered the combination treatment cabotegravir and rilpivirine, which appears to be safe and effective in suppressing HIV. The participants were started on 20 weeks of daily oral medication. Once their viral loads were suppressed, they received the shots as a maintenance therapy at either 4-week intervals or 8-week intervals. The control group continued to take the pill. At 96 weeks, 84% of patients in the oral drug arm maintained viral suppression compared with 87% of the 4-week shot arm and 94% of the 8-week shot arm. This antiretroviral shot could revolutionize patient care, especially in rural areas like sub-Saharan Africa, the Post reported.