HIV treatments: an interview with Dr Jaime Oliver Vigueras

EPR‘s Victoria Rees interviews Dr Jaime Oliver Vigueras from Janssen to discuss rilpivirine, Janssen’s long acting monthly injectable HIV treatment.

“Long-acting maintenance therapies are vital to prevent HIV infection from progressing to AIDS,” said Dr Jaime Oliver Vigueras, Therapeutic Lead responsible for HIV at Janssen, when speaking to European Pharmaceutical Review’s Victoria Rees in an interview.

One example of a long-acting maintenance treatment is Janssen’s rilpivirine, which gained approval for marketing authorisation from the European Commission (EC) last month, to be used with ViiV Healthcare’s cabotegravir in the EU. Rilpivirine is an injection that removes the need for HIV patients to take daily oral tablets.

Jaime explained that as “HIV remains one of the greatest global health crises of our time,” it is increasingly important to develop maintenance treatments before an eventual vaccine can stop HIV from spreading. It is also important to ensure that these treatments are easy for patients to administer and do not greatly impact their lives, he highlighted.

Referring to rilpivirine, he said that the benefits of the long-acting therapy means that this impact on patient’s lives is reduced because the treatment only needs to be administered six times a year. This also helps to ensure that patients adhere to their treatment routine. 

HIV remains one of the greatest global health crises of our time”

In terms of mechanism of action, Jaime explained that rilpivirine stops the virus from multiplying by interfering with an enzyme called reverse transcriptase. So, while the virus will remain in the body, it will be maintained and the patient can continue their normal routine.

Jaime also discussed the benefits of rilpivirine compared to other HIV treatments and gave his prediction about how HIV treatments will evolve in the future. “We need to find solutions that are discreet [and] improve patients’ lives,” he concluded.