Injectable HIV Treatment
Antiretroviral therapy (ART) has served as the primary form of treatment for HIV over the past few years. This treatment involves the use of oral medications or pills that people with HIV should take daily. These pills are a combination of two or more antiviral drugs that help suppress and prevent further replication of the virus throughout the body.
In January 2021, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the first injectable HIV treatment. It is called Cabenuva, which only requires monthly administration to treat adult viral infection. HIV-positive people can now opt for this treatment if daily oral medication is difficult for them to use.
Cabenuva is a complete regimen for the treatment of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). It contains two primary antiviral agents, such as Cabotegravir and Rilpivirine.
Cabotegravir is part of a group of drugs called integrase strand transfer inhibitors (INSTIs). It functions by blocking the action of integrase, a type of viral enzyme HIV uses to multiply. On the other hand, Rilpivirine is a non-nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitor (NNRTI), which also functions by inhibiting HIV from replicating itself.
Cabenuva is only suitable for adults and adolescents 12 years old and up – and weighs at least 35 kilograms. Like oral HIV medications, Cabenuva is not the cure for the infection. However, this HIV injection treatment is highly capable of suppressing the virus.
What precautions should you take before using Cabenuva?
You should not use Cabenuva if you are allergic to this medicine, particularly Cabotegravir and Rilpivirine as its ingredients. Furthermore, to ensure this medicine is safe for you, tell your healthcare professional if you have a history of the following conditions:
- Skin rashes after using Cabotegravir and Rilpivirine
- Liver disease (hepatitis B or C)
- Mental disorder
- Long QT syndrome (an uncommon inherited condition)
Below is the recommended dosing information for Cabenuva:
For the initial dose, the dosage recommendation is as follows:
- Cabotegravir – 600 mg IM once as a single dose
- Rilpivirine – 900 mg IM once as a single dose
For dosage maintenance that will follow a once-a-month dosing schedule:
- Cabotegravir – 400 mg IM once per month
- Rilpivirine – 600 mg IM once per month
Similar to other HIV treatments, Cabenuva also shares a list of side effects. These are as follows:
- Pain at the injection site
- Fever or chills
- Nausea and vomiting
- Pain in the bones
- Skin rash
- Change in behavior
- Suicidal thoughts
- Liver problems
- Sleep disturbances
HIV long-acting injectable treatment cost
The average cost of Cabenuva is around $4,390 for a medication supply of 4 milliliters. However, this amount varies depending on the pharmacy that you visit. Below is the most detailed price of Cabenuva in different suspension supplies.
- For 4 milliliters, the cost of Cabenuva per unit is $1.097.62. Its total price is $4,390.49.
- For 6 milliliters, the cost per unit is $1,096.83. Its total price is $6,580.97.
Cabenuva is not available in generic form. That is why it is usually priced so high. However, there are patient assistance programs that people with HIV can apply for more affordable treatment with Cabenuva. If you opt for this treatment, ensure you have all the means to get this treatment monthly.