Baby apparently cured of HIV with older medications

This image provided by Johns Hopkins Medicine shows Dr. Deborah Persaud of Johns Hopkins' Children's Center in Baltimore. A baby, born with the AIDS virus, appears to have been cured scientists announced Sunday, March 3, 2013, describing the case of a child from Mississippi, who's now 2½ and has been off medication for about a year with no signs of infection. If the child remains free of HIV, it would mark only the world's second known cure. Specialists say the finding offers exciting clues for how to eliminate HIV infection in children. "Maybe we'll be able to block this reservoir seeding," Persaud said. (AP Photo/Johns Hopkins Medicine)

The Mississippi girl who was apparently cured of HIV in the first hours of her life was treated not with expensive new medication but with relatively old anti-retroviral drugs.

The National Institutes of Health statement (here) said that only 30 hours after she was born, doctors started using a liquid combination of three anti-HIV drugs: zidovudine, lamivudine, and nevirapine.

Taxpayer-funded NIH helped fund the post-event study of what happened.

Zidovudine and lamivudine were originally made by GlaxoSmithKline - or its predecessors and various scientists, with FDA approval coming in the 1980s and 1990s. Nevirapine was made by Boehringer Ingelheim and was approved in the 1990s. All the drugs have generic competitors.

GlaxoSmithKline has transfered those patents to the joint venture it started with Pfizer, Inc., called Viiv Healthcare, whose focus is treating people with HIV/AIDs.

GSK is based in London, but has several operations in the Philadelphia region. Pfizer is headquartered in New York, but also has Philadelphia operations. The joint venture was formed in 2009 and Shionogi, which is based in Osaka, joined ViiV Healthcare in 2012.

Glaxo has 76.5 percent of the joint venture, with Pfizer owning 13.5 percent and Shionogi holding 10 percent.

The brand-named tablet Combivir is a combination of lamivudine and zidovudine.

The official label, which is here, does allow for the treatment of young children, though few would have imagined them being only 30 hours old:

"If a child is unable to reliably swallow a Combivir tablet, the liquid oral formulations should be prescribed: Epivir (lamivudine) Oral Solution and Retrovir (zidovudine) Syrup."

News stories stemmed from the publication of a study in the journal Pediatrics. A link to the Reuters story is here and a link to the New York Times story is here.