A DRUGS giant has hailed its new HIV preventive treatment after it beat the standard medication in clinical trials.

Research found new treatment, Cabotegravir, trialled by GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) which has a factory in Barnard Castle, is 69 per cent more effective in preventing HIV when compared to the standard daily tablets.

Cabotegravir was developed at ViiV Healthcare, which is majority-owned by GSK.

The tests have been so positive that the trial was stopped early by independent scrutineers.

Head of research and development, Kimberly Smith, said: “These study results demonstrate that long-acting injectable Cabotegravir dosed every two months can successfully reduce HIV acquisition in at-risk men and transgender women.

“We are thrilled with the results not only because of the high efficacy of Cabotegravir but also because we have demonstrated high efficacy in a study that adequately represents some of the populations most disproportionately impacted by HIV.

“We continue to be focused on the completion of the companion HPTN 084 study, which will give us important information about the effectiveness of Cabotegravir in women. “New options are needed for HIV prevention that offer an effective alternative to daily oral pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP).

“If approved, this long-acting injectable has the potential to be a game-changer for HIV prevention by reducing the frequency of dosing from 365 days to six times per year.”

The tests involved 4,600 participants and were one of the first-ever to directly compare two active prevention agents.

Professor Myron Cohen, who co-led the project said: “Each year, an estimated 1.7 million people are newly diagnosed with HIV.

"To lower that number, we believe more prevention options are needed in addition to currently available oral tablets for daily use.

If approved, a new injectable agent, such as long-acting Cabotegravir administered every two months, could play an important role in reducing HIV transmission and helping to end “the HIV epidemic.”

In a planned interim review of the trials, the independent Data and Safety Monitoring Board (DSMB) found the study data clearly indicated that long-acting injectable Cabotegravir was highly effective at preventing HIV in the study population. Among the 50 people in the trial who acquired HIV, 12 had been receiving GSK's treatment and the other 38 of whom were taking daily pills.

Two-thirds of study participants were under 30 years of age, and 12 per cent were transgender women.

Half of the participants in the tests identified as black or African American.

Jared Baeten, an epidemiologist at the University of Washington, Seattle, said the results were 'really exciting'.

GSK shares rose 2.4 per cent, or 39.4p, to 1687.2p on Monday night.