New advancements in technology could make or break opportunities of alternative ways at delivering antiretroviral HIV medications, and some returning citizens feel this is a worthwhile venture.
On Wednesday, ImQuest Biosciences announced they are attempting to create an antiretroviral that could be applied via a patch that’s attached to the skin, much, like an anti-smoking patch or a birth control patch.
At the unveiling, during the American Association of Pharmaceutical Scientists (AAPS) Annual Meeting and Exposition, it was also announced that the patch is in very early stages of development and is years away from being available to the public..
ImQuest’s lead presenter Anthony Ham, PhD, said that a single transdermal patch can potentially be used to deliver seven days of medication into the bloodstream. The patch is capable of delivering the dual-acting HIV nonnucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitor (or better known as IQP-0410) at therapeutic levels.
According to AIDSMEDS, a website that offers information to those living with HIV, Ham said, “As we enter the fourth decade of HIV/AIDS, this new delivery method will hopefully reduce the numerous pills most HIV patients have to take daily.”
Solvent cast manufacturing was used to formulate IQP-0410 into ethyl cellulose/HPMC-based film patches. The bioactivity of IQP-0410 was evaluated by testing its in vitro antiviral activity, mechanism of action, and toxicity in primary and established cells. In vitro and ex vivo testing of patches was performed.
Barry Dixon, a returning citizen who advocates for ex-offenders who have HIV/AIDS, is concerned about the price. “All of that sounds well and good,” he said, “but what about cost?”
ImQuest says that the non-invasive patch boasts a potential economic advantage because users would not have to pay shipping costs to the large number of pills or needles modern users have to purchase. Ham added that the patch allows people to have better access to medications.
“This is great news,” said Ryan Hill, a 32 year old returning citizen who is also HIV positive. “I don’t know how far off this is, but I think it’s a wonderful idea.” Hill added that using a patch would greatly reduce the medical cocktail he has to remember to take.
In June, a D.C. Department of Health report was released, showing the number of new HIV/AIDS cases reported in the District has fallen by half, and the second straight year where there were fewer new HIV/AIDS diagnoses than the year before. But D.C. still has enough cases of the disease to qualify as an epidemic under the World Health Organization’s definition.
It shows in 2009, 3.2 percent of Washingtonians over the age of 12 were living with HIV/AIDS, which is higher than many developing nations. That percentage comes to roughly 16,721 people. Of that number:
72.1 percent of patients were male
27.9 percent were female
75.2 percent were African American (accounting for 69.1 percent among males and 99.1 percent among females)
In the District residents between 40 and 49 years old have the highest infection rate (7,393 per 100,000 residents).
Ham also said at the press release, “Taking medicines regularly reduces symptoms in HIV patients and extends lives. The transdermal patch offers an easier option for patients to comply with their medication regimes as compared to current treatments.”
The investigators found that there was no toxic irritation to the epidermal tissue with flexible, strong transdermal patches. IQP-0410 was loaded into the patches at 249 ± 7.22 µg/cm² and showed potent in vitro anti-HIV activity.
Just a few years ago Shannon Hadler was Director of the District’s HIV/AIDS Administration, and she told The Washington Post in 2009, “Our rates are higher than West Africa. They’re on par with Uganda and some parts of Kenya.”
One attendee of the conference said, “This is something that is in its early stages, but I believe what’s next for them is to move to the next stage and study on living beings, like animals and humans.”
It is estimated that there are 15 million people living with HIV in developing countries alone, sadly only 5.3 million people with access to any form of treatment.
Hill concluded, “HIV/AIDS has a long history in D.C. and I think it’s something that isn’t going to go away any time soon. Part of the spread if the disease is men having sex with men while they’re incarcerated; and then they come home and go to their girlfriends and wives.” He also mentioned that many of these men are heterosexual when not locked up.
“Since I’ve become HIV positive I have read up on what’s going on with research and medicine stuff because I hope to one day see a cure for the disease, and this patch just might lay the groundwork for that to happen,” Hill said.
ImQuest Biosciences is based in Frederick, Maryland.