The Food and Drug Administration gave final approval on Thursday for a second drug from Gilead Sciences to be used for PrEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis).
Since 2012, Gilead’s Truvada has been the only drug approved for use as PrEP.
Gilead’s Descovy, approved in 2016 to treat those already infected with HIV, is now available for men and transgender women who have sex with men to prevent new HIV infections.
The approval did not extend to use by those identified as female at birth because of a lack of research in that population.
Descovy, a combination drug taken once daily, contains a newer formulation of Truvada that is less toxic to the kidneys and bones according to clinical trials. It’s also been shown to be more effective in preventing HIV transmission.
Gilead hopes to move current patients from Truvada to Descovy over the next year as the patent for Truvada expires in 2020.
Reuters reports sales of Truvada in the U.S. reached $2.6 billion in 2018 but is expected to drop to $428 million by 2024, while Descovy’s sales (which totaled $1.2 billion last year) are expected to more than double by 2024 to nearly $3 billion.
According to Gilead, 213,000 people were prescribed Truvada for use as PrEP in the second quarter of 2019.
In May, Gilead announced it would donate it’s most up-to-date PrEP medication (now Descovy) to 200,000 uninsured people for the next 11 years as part of the Trump administration’s proposed plan to end the HIV epidemic by 2030.