Etravirine Reduces HIV Viral Loads When Taken With Prezista

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The experimental antiretroviral drug etravirine, made by Johnson & Johnson subsidiary Tibotec Pharmaceuticals,greatly reduces HIV viral loads in people with a history of drugresistance when taken in combination with Tibotec's antiretroviralPrezista, according to two studies published Saturday in the journal The Lancet, the Los Angeles Times reports (Chong, Los Angeles Times, 7/6). The Lancet has published an HIV/AIDS themed issue ahead of the 4th International AIDS Society Conference On HIV Pathogenesis, Treatment and Prevention, which is scheduled to take place July 22 to July 25 in Sydney, Australia (AFP/Yahoo! News, 7/6).

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Thetwo Phase III studies, which were funded by Tibotec, followed 1,203HIV-positive people in 19 countries who had compromised immune systemsand a history of resistance to two classes of antiretrovirals known asnon-nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors and proteaseinhibitors, the Times reports. About half of theparticipants received the experimental NNRTI etravirine and theprotease inhibitor Prezista and the other half received Prezista and aplacebo. Participants in both groups also received otherantiretrovirals based on their physicians' recommendations. One of thestudies found that at 24 weeks, 62% of the participants who receivedetravirine saw a decrease in their HIV viral loads to undetectablelevels, compared with 44% in the placebo group. The second study foundsuccessful viral suppression in 56% of participants who receivedetravirine, compared with 39% who received a placebo (Los Angeles Times, 7/6). According to AFP/Yahoo! News, side effects in both groups were mild or moderate (AFP/Yahoo! News, 7/5).

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David Hardy, director of infectious diseases at Cedars-Sinai Medical Centerwho was not involved with the studies, said the results suggest thatetravirine is best used in combination with other antiretrovirals thathave a strong ability to control HIV. Etravirine "will not perform byitself," Hardy added (Los Angeles Times, 7/6). William Towner, medical director of Kaiser Permanente'sHIV/AIDS Research Trials Program in Southern California and a studyauthor, said the studies are the "most significant worldwide HIV/AIDSclinical trials in recent years." Towner added that the studies "showedthat when the two drugs are used in combination, there is a good chanceHIV can be very effectively controlled in patients who have advanced,multi-drug resistant HIV" (Reuters, 7/5).
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