Progress on vaginal gel

2013-06-06 00:00

CAPE TOWN — There was a buzz of excitement in Parliament yesterday as MP’s listened to a progress report on the development of a vaginal gel that can prevent the transmission of HIV/Aids to women.

Members of the science and technology portfolio committee applauded news that the plan is to market the tenofovir gel to users by 2016.

Professor Salim Abdool Karim, former director of the Centre for the Aids Programme of Research in SA (Caprisa) and president of the SA Medical Research Council, said he hopes the SA Medicines Control Council (SAMCC) will now give its final approval to make and market the product locally.

He said two sites have already been identified on which to build a factory and the plans for the building are also nearly completed.

The former director of Caprisa relayed how the development of the gel overcame several obstacles. One of the delays was caused by the medicines council, which took very long to authorise use of the gel in medical tests.

“It is already six years later. Maybe the product would have been closer to the market if the SAMCC did not drag their feet first time round,” he said.

He added all research on the gel was then almost scuppered in 2011 because it seemed the gel was ineffective.

New research has however proved the contrary.

Professor Helen Rees and Glenda Gray of Follow-on African Consortium for Tenofovir Studies (Facts) said the new evidence showed the gel reduces transmission of HIV and herpes to women by up to 50% if used correctly.

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