It’s been over a year since the United States Food and Drug Administration approved emtricitabine/TAF (Descovy) as PrEP. Since then — October 2019 — many patients switched to Descovy PrEP, and 36% of new PrEP users started on it.
At the just-concluded Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections (CROI 2021), Dr. Karen Hoover of the Center for Disease Control provided the above data. She disclosed that the report is based on an extensive pharmacy database.
Generally, the U.S. approves two types of PrEP tablets. The first approval was in 2012 for Tenofovir disoproxil fumarate (TDF), famously known as Truvada. The new formulation combines emtricitabine and tenofovir alafenamide (TAF), which is only available as Descovy.
As the data show, TAF-based or Descovy PrEP has been a marketing success in the United States. However, it has not been approved by other regulatory agencies like the European Medicines Agency and the World Health Organization.
Presently, the efficacy data comes from cisgender gay men and a small number of transgender women. The result of its use by cisgender women remains unavailable. Also, TDF is now widely available as a low-cost generic drug.
Furthermore, Descovy PrEP has become a niche option for individuals with kidney problems or other specific concerns. The pharmacy data presented at the conference covers the period of January 2014 to September 2020. It showed no evidence of off-label prescription of TAF-based PrEP before its regulatory approval.
In the last quarter of 2019, there was a rise in the uptake of TAF-based PrEP which reflected a decrease in TDF-based products. Additionally, people who switched to TAF-based PrEP were older males than females. The data also showed that switching was more common among Latinx individuals and those living in the south than those in the north.
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