Australian regulators have approved a new condom with an antiviral compound, which can inactivate 99.9 percent of HIV, herpes and other sexually transmitted diseases. It’ll be on the market in months but doctors warn it is not foolproof.
Anti-viral VivaGel, the lubricant and core component of the new condom, contains 0.5 percent astodrimer sodium, a drug designed specifically to fight against HIV. Companies Ansel and Starpharma have got approval from the Australian Therapeutic Goods Administration, Australian media reported Monday.
“The product will be, therefore, expected to be launched quite soon, so probably within the next few months,” Dr Jackie Fairley, Starpharma’s chief executive told ABC Australia.
But Dr. Fairley warned that condoms are not foolproof and do not give 100 percent protection from sexually transmitted diseases or pregnancy.She said however that VivaGel further reduces the chance of infection.
“Anything that you can do to reduce the number of virus particles by inactivating them with a substance like VivaGel would reduce the overall viral load. The more viral particles you’re exposed to, that typically translates into a greater chance of infection,” she said.
While the gel also has antibacterial properties, its recent regulatory approval in Australia was only related to the viruses it was tested against in laboratory experiments, Dr. Fairley warned.
VivaGel is also going through trials in the US for the treatment of bacterial vaginosis, but was rejected by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as an alternative to antibiotic treatment of the condition.
However Starpharma has been given the green light from the FDA for using VivaGel to prevent the recurrence of bacterial vaginosis, which for 50 percent of women with the condition reoccurs within 12 months.
This is being developed as a standalone gel in the form of a lubricant, but there are no plans to introduce this onto the Australian market yet.
As well as Australia, the gel coated condoms will also be launched in Japan with the country’s biggest condom maker Okamoto.
Ansell believes that the branded condom market to be worth over $1 billion a year globally.