Sep 4, 2007
Could you tell us about the new medicine call Isentress(Raltegravir) from MERCK? (FDA advisers believe that an experimental HIV drug from Merck is safe and effective, based on documents released by the agency.)
Response from Dr. Conway
There is a lot of very good information out there, based on the clinical trials that have been reported this year. Many of these are summarized and critiqued on bodypro, so I would invite you to consult this site.
In brief, Isentress is an excellent drug in salvage therapy, boosting the effect of the newer protease inhibitors (darunavir, tipranavir) and Fuzeon. It may make all the difference in the world for patients who are heavily treatment-experienced, and allow patients to achieve undetectable viral loads, whereas they could not without it.
In first line therapy, it is highly effective but it is not yet clear if it will be any better than what we are already using (that works extremely well!!!). It may act to reduce viral load more quickly, but this information is controversial and may not necessarily be clinically significant.
In other lines of therapy, it will almost assuredly paly a role, we are not yet certain what it will be.
It is quite safe to date, but we may not have been using it long enough to appreciate all the side effects it may have.
At this stage, it looks as if it will be an excellent addition to our regimens to combat the virus.
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