(BOSTON) -- A new once-daily "Quad" pill might be added to the arsenal of effective HIV treatments in the near future, according to a new study published in the Lancet.
For adults starting antiretroviral treatment, the U.S. Department Health and Human Services recommends the standard treatment for HIV-positive patients -- four different drugs, which involve several pills multiple times a day. But the results of the quad drug research add to other combination agents available to patients today.
Researchers from Harvard Medical School randomly assigned 700 North American patients on two different single-pill regiments, either the new Quad or Atripla, a drug that has become the standard treatment, approved by the Food and Drug Administration in 2006.
After nearly one year of treatment, 88 percent of patients on the Quad experienced a suppression of the virus, compared with 84 percent of the patients on Atripla, the study showed.
Both drugs were also proven to be safe, with only 3.7 percent of the study participants stopping the Quad and 5.1 percent stopping the Atripla.
As more innovative interventions have been created to combat HIV/AIDS, more patients have been able to live fuller, longer lives with the disease. Still, more than 1.1 million Americans were estimated to be living with HIV in 2008, according to the Centers for Disease Control.
"Response to the Quad was favorable across a wide range of patients, including those with high HIV viral loads who are sometimes difficult to treat," Dr. Paul Sax, clinical director of infectious disease at Harvard Medical School, told ABC News.
"The side effect profile differed, in that Quad caused fewer rashes and central nervous system side effects than Atripla, but more nausea," Sax said. "Overall, both treatments were very well tolerated. These results suggest that Quad will be an important new option for HIV treatment if it is approved."
An FDA advisory committee met in May to review data on the Quad and voted in favor of its approval. A final decision by the FDA is expected this summer, Sax said.
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