Bill Gates Funds Implantable PrEP Pump

GeekWire reports:

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is committing up to $140 million to help Boston biotech company Intarcia Therapeutics develop an HIV prevention device. The funds will help Intarcia adapt its Medici technology program to deliver a steady stream of HIV medication to healthy patients over an extended period of time. The matchstick-sized device is similar to a birth control implant, dosing out medicine from a tiny pump embedded under the patient’s skin.

The Gates Foundation contribution is divided into two parts. The Seattle non-profit behemoth is investing $50 million in Intarcia’s latest Series EE round and committing up to $90 million in grants to be awarded as the startup crosses certain milestones.

The anti-HIV prophylactic therapy would be administered to patients once or twice-yearly. Intarcia is also developing a drug delivery system to treat type 2 diabetes, using the Medici technology. The startup plans to begin delivering the diabetes medication to patients next year but development of the anti-HIV prophylactic is expected to take longer.

The PrEP pump will likely make its initial roll-out in Western nations, but Intarcia’s long-term goal is for the device to be made widely-available across sub-Saharan Africa and other parts of the developing world. Learn more about the device here.

  • Todd20036

    Anything that gives the AHF fits is fine by me!

    If this works out, it could work for HIV+ patients like myself. No more pills, just an implant twice a year.

    • another_steve

      Is the AHF going to name this the “Party Pump”?

      • Todd20036

        You know, that’s not a bad name for it.

      • fuow

        I’ve heard worse names. Monogamous as we are, we ordered matching ‘Truvada Whore’ T-Shirts from the last round. If somebody does something clever and in-your-face to the AHF and the PC-Politessas on this one, I’ll buy it.

        • another_steve

          No question that HIV/AIDS has, for some, reintroduced body and sex shame — big time — into the gay male sex equation. I’ve maintained for years that AHF is into the body and sex shame business, traditionally the province of institutional religion.

          They won’t acknowledge that, of course. They’ll say they’re into savings lives and the like.

          But much of it is the buying into the body and sex shame game.

          • FatNance


            Are you saying that there was a rosy period of yore when body and sex shame was absent from the gay male sex equation? If so, when was that? Was it limited to only small pockets of the gay male community in certain metropolises or was it everywhere?

          • another_steve

            Can’t speak for “everywhere,” but in 1970s NYC (where I lived and partied at the time) I didn’t detect pervasive body and sex shame among gay men.

            People like me who came out just-Post Stonewall were for the most part ready and eager to rediscover their lusts and their passions.

            Lusts and passions so brutally repressed for so many years.

          • FatNance

            I’m glad you got to experience that period in that city. Still, I’m willing to bet there where some fat guys, small-dicked guys and Catholic (or Mormon or Southern Baptist…) guys who did experience body and sex shame in NYC at that time. If Grindr or Scruff was around back then, you’d surely see the “no fats, no fem” and similar BS.

          • another_steve

            Oh yeah. Looks-ism (judging a person’s character by how they look) galore. Then and now.

            I’m guilty of it occasionally too.

            When I catch myself engaging in it, I give myself a mental slap.

    • Harley

      I’m sure AHF will spends millions against this, instead of spending the money where it is most needed, helping people with AIDS.

      • Todd20036

        It’s what they do. It’s why I don’t donate to them

      • fuow

        I’m sure you’re right.

    • fuow

      Yay! – Both to making your life easier and to giving the SJW and PC-Politessas a fit. Fucking A-Listers just can’t stand the fact that gay men are free creatures and not subservient to them.

  • ColdCountry

    Hey, Trump! THIS is how you make America great again.

  • another_steve

    Probably the wave of the future with regard to a whole host of medical conditions requiring medications.

    Lots of people are notoriously bad when it comes to keeping to a meds regimen.

    • WitlessProtection

      We are the Borg. Resistance is futile. We will add your biological and technological distinctiveness to our own.

      • another_steve

        We’ve already been assimilated by our technology masters. We’re inseparable from our technology.

        We talk to and through it, not to the person sitting opposite us at the kitchen table.

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    • FatNance

      Also riding on that wave of the future will be an increased need for emergency procedures to remove these implanted devices that dispense medication when the recipient develops a life-threatening adverse reaction to it.

      (I’m not saying that PreP will cause life-threatening reactions in some, I’m saying if/when a whole variety of medications are dispensed this way, some will.)

      • another_steve


        New medical technologies are never perfect or without some risk. Some people may prove not to be good candidates for this implant technology.

    • Rambie

      I think this is a great thing for PrEP users. I do have a good routine to keep me on my schedule for PrEP, it’s easy since it’s daily. I do have a 3x a week allergy pill I take that I more often forget though. o.0

  • i admit to having mixed feelings about this, looking at the example of the implants used for female birth control. as we’ve recently proven in this country, there are a LOT of stupid people out there. “if i use this i won’t get aids? yeah, i can throw away all my condoms now.” meanwhile, resistant strains of very serious STDs continue to spread and pop up all over the place.

    the people who need it most are women in africa and asia, who are faithful to their husbands but don’t get the same from the men. i suppose there are reasons to do the first run of this technology and prep in the west, but i hope racism and greed aren’t among them. even as i suspect they are.

    • Guest

      Keep it optimistic!

    • Silver Badger

      Forgot the dying years already did you? Anything we can do to fight AIDS is a good thing. The stupid will always be with us. Don’t cater to them.

      • no, i haven’t forgotten, but thanks for thinking i did. /s

        i’m a realist. sometimes that means looking at what actually happens, vs what should happen. drug resistant syphilis is no joke. neither is herpes, or HPV. it’s all well and good to know you most likely won’t be at risk of an HIV infection, but that matters less when something else is killing you instead.

        and given the number of people here i’ve read who seem happy to fuck pretty, vapid rethugs, i’m less sanguine that even the “smart” folks won’t abuse, or be abused by, use of this. all the proof you need that I have not forgotten the dying years should be obvious by my continued harping on condom use.

        • Silver Badger

          Having watched everyone I know die a slow, painful ugly death, I still say ANYTHING that can be done to keep those years from coming back MUST be done. Yes, the stupid among us will abuse PREP and pay the price. This should not disqualify anyone from the benefits possible.

    • Todd20036

      Consider this, in locations in the US where HIV- people are on PrEP and HIV+ people are on HAART, the rate of new infections have dropped to ZERO.

      If condoms were the best answer to the AIDS crisis, there wouldn’t be any HIV cases 35 years after the initial infection.

      Condoms are better than nothing, but they won’t work if people won’t use them, and people don’t use them because there really is a difference between sex with them, and sex without.

      • WitlessProtection

        Hear hear!

      • fuow

        You are so right. And the slut-shamers and ‘but there are other STDS!!!!!’ folks won’t listen to you.
        It bugs the hell out of them that gay men have anal sex. It drives them absolutely bonkers. That’s the real reason they hang onto this bullshit that condoms are the solution. After all these decades of failure, it’s scary how unwilling they are to accept reality. And it’s downright murderous of them to continue to fight the first and so far only resource we have which has actually cut new infections down to virtually zero.

        • Todd20036

          Other STDs have been around far longer than HIV, and as far as I know, condom use among gay men in the 1970s (before HIV made its debut in America on a grand scale), was slim to none.

          Some people used them for STDs but again, sex with condoms is way different than sex without condoms.

          • fuow

            So true. So very fucking true. And now, cue the women who don’t like the freedom gay men have and their tame monkeys, the A-Lister Fags who pretend that’s not the case, at all. Their asses are so dead they can’t feel when their man has ejaculated in them. I’d pity them, if they weren’t willing to actively block the one and only resource we have found in over three decades which actually is working to end this epidemic.

          • another_steve

            Making sex with condoms “the norm” was and is an admirable goal, but it will never happen. As you say, Todd, it’s a very different experience. For many guys, condoms during sex represent a visual association with disease.

            HIV/AIDS educators need to remain citizens of the real world. Need to be able to recognize and deal with the complicated psychological aspects of sexual encounter.

          • Bluto
      • FatNance

        “….the rate of new infections have dropped to ZERO.”

        Can you please post a link to the reference you cite? I curious to see in which peer-reviewed journal these data were published.

        Thank you so much.

    • fuow

      Upvote because women in the Islamic and African countries are treated like gay men in America – like filth.
      The facts remain, though: Condoms have been a total failure. Now into our third decade of promoting them, they’re acceptance among those most at risk has been next to nil.

  • CanuckDon

    Yikes! At first glance, I wondered just where that thing went!

    • JoeMyGod

      From what I’ve read about other implantable devices, they are most often inserted in the inside of the upper arm where they are least likely to cause discomfort or be damaged by being bumped into.

  • Gerry Fisher

    I think I’d rather take a pill a day than to have something like that embedded in me.

    • another_steve

      Options in life are a good thing. Some will choose to stick with pills, some will choose the implant.

    • Todd20036

      If you don’t have insurance, and the implant is cheaper, you might reconsider.

      • Gerry Fisher

        Point taken.

    • fuow

      That’s your choice. Lot’s of people feel differently and should have the choice. Me? I prefer American cars, though they’re unreliable as all get out. So, I drive Cadillac and Chevy. Mainly to the service bay at our GM dealer….But it’s the whole point of freedom of choice.

    • Gerry Fisher

      Jeez! Reading these replies, it makes me wonder if I needed to add this: “DISCLAIMER: This is the opinion of one person only who happens to have medical insurance, and it is not meant to be a criticism of anyone else or an overall judgment of the program.” My partner at the time and I took care of a friend who passed away from AIDS in ’95. I still remember how very useful his stent was.

    • Chris Gardner

      Yeah, especially if they have to replace it twice a year.

  • TexasBoy

    It is would be a great thing, if it works, and if the average person can afford it.

    • Todd20036

      If it’s $1000 (without insurance) twice a year, that’s still expensive but a LOT cheaper than $1300 per month

      • My PreP pills, without insurance, is $1769/month. Luckily, insurance covers it fully.

        • Todd20036

          My HAART pill is $1200 without insurance per month.
          With insurance, it’s $105 for 3 months

          • WitlessProtection

            You guys are lucky, I just got changed to Odefsey, the new Truvada, and it is $3,100/month. I had to get the co-pay card from Gilead to cover the cost, because my insurance covers all but $800, but I can’t even afford that each month!

  • Natty Enquirer

    A different kind of Trojan. Hope it’s not connected to the Internet.

  • MBear

    Considering how effective & intuitive Windows has become, yeaaaaaahh….um, no.

    • Todd20036

      I’m not willing to be a guinea pig for this, especially given how effective a 1 a day pill regimen has been for me up to this point.
      But assuming this works, I’d consider it.

  • fuow

    Cue the ‘I don’t care how many people die, we musn’t end this epidemic except by slut shaming gay men, by forcing them to use condoms. Anything else but turning gay men into parlor monkeys to subservient to the PC-Politessas is wrong, wrong, wrong!’

    Personally, I think this is great news. First thing which has actually had a measurable impact on this horrid epidemic. Strongly support it.

    • JWC

      Agreed!! The sick side bar to HIV was having it used by the Religious Rights as proof of Gods(???????) sentenence on GAYS

  • mikeinrkfd

    I think this is great, another tool in the toolkit to fight HIV infections. Yes the possibility of STI’s still remain, but they are always present with or without PReP.

  • Chris Gardner

    It seems to me that medicine distributed in this fashion will be easier on the liver as it is absorbed directly by the body.

  • Acronym Jim

    “Intarcia’s long-term goal is for the device to be made widely-available across sub-Saharan Africa and other parts of the developing world.”

    I hope Gates and Intarcia are also partnering with the Clinton Foundation since the Foundation already has infrastructure and organization in place.