In Summary
  • Skipping pills can also lead to the failure of ART taken by infected people as a means of preventing the virus spreading to uninfected sexual partners.
  • The new dosage system comes in the form of a capsule which, once its shell is dissolved in the stomach, unfolds into a star-shaped gadget about four centimetres (1.6 inches) wide.
  • Unfolded, it has six arms, and can hold several different drugs at a time — a "cocktail" of AIDS medicines, for example.

An ingestible "mini pill box" which releases a cocktail of HIV drugs in the stomach over several days is a potential step towards reducing the burden of daily pill-taking, scientists reported on Tuesday.

Tested only in pigs so far, the tiny device is the latest attempt to make it easier for people on medication for chronic illnesses, including those infected with the AIDS-causing virus, to stick to their dosage plans.

Drug adherence is a major challenge for people who have to take multiple drugs daily, or even twice-daily, for the rest of their lives.

Average adherence is estimated at about 70 percent for antiretroviral treatment (ART), which keeps human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) under control, but does not kill it.

People who forget to take their medication run the risk of falling ill if the virus rebounds, or developing resistance to the drugs they were using — which could require a more expensive, and more onerous, replacement.

Skipping pills can also lead to the failure of ART taken by infected people as a means of preventing the virus spreading to uninfected sexual partners.

The new dosage system comes in the form of a capsule which, once its shell is dissolved in the stomach, unfolds into a star-shaped gadget about four centimetres (1.6 inches) wide.

Unfolded, it has six arms, and can hold several different drugs at a time — a "cocktail" of AIDS medicines, for example.

SAVING THOUSANDS OF LIVES

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