Malaysia Endorses Injectable HIV Prevention Drug, Apretude

Injectable Apretude can help minimise the risk of exposure to HIV infection. (RF._.studio/Pexels)

HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) can be found throughout Malaysia with various prevalence rates across regions. Key affected populations typically include people who inject drugs, sex workers, and men who engage in intimate contact. The government implemented numerous programs to combat HIV/AIDS by endorsing Apretude.

HIV transmission in Malaysia occurs most commonly through unprotected sexual interaction and the sharing of needles/syringes among drug injectors. Mother-to-child transmission should also be considered.

Malaysia offers HIV testing and treatment services through government healthcare facilities, making accessing antiretroviral therapy possible and improving the overall quality of life for people living with the virus.

What is Apretude?

It’s a brand-name prescription medication the FDA approved to stop HIV in people at risk of getting HIV through sexual intercourse. This injectable drug contains cabotegravir and comes as an intramuscular injection.

Apretude is a prescription drug used for HIV-1 PrEP to minimise the risk of contracting HIV-1 infection in adults and adolescents weighing at least 35 kilograms or 77 pounds.

The drug may stay in the body of a person for a year or longer after ending treatment. It was approved in 2021 as the first long-acting injection for HIV pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP). Some of the few reported side effects of Apretude include fever, nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, headache, sleepiness or sleep disorders, injection site reactions, and mild allergic reactions.

First and Only Injectable Treatment for HIV Pre-Exposure Prevention

Malaysia’s Drug Control Authority (DCA) approved Apretude’s registration to help protect high-risk groups from HIV infection. The endorsement comprises two distinct formulations, a tablet and a long-acting injectable. The resolution follows a meticulous analysis of the ASEAN Joint Assessment programme conducted.

The country is now among the countries that approve cabotegravir, under the Apretude brand name. In December 2021, the USFDA approved this drug and afterwards gained approval by other countries. It includes Botswana, South Africa, Australia, Brazil, Malawi, and Zimbabwe.

This product registration through the Asean Joint Assessment is the MOH’s initiative and commitment in continued efforts to increase and expedite Malaysians’ access to quality, safe and effective treatments,” said Norhaliza A. Halim, MOH pharmacy services director.

Glaxo Operations (GSK) UK Ltd produced the prescription, based in the United Kingdom. It’s certified under the control of GlaxoSmithKline Pharmaceutical Sdn Bhd in Malaysia.

Malaysia has implemented several prevention efforts, such as providing condoms to citizens and encouraging safe sex practices. Harm reduction programs like needle exchange are also in place to decrease HIV transmission risks among those who inject drugs. The country collaborates with international organizations like UNAIDS and WHO in order to address HIV/AIDS-related issues while accessing resources and expertise.