August 8, 2013
Noting UNAIDS has set a goal of increasing the number of people infected with HIV who are receiving antiretroviral treatment worldwide "to 15 million by 2015 and to add an additional million each subsequent year, a task that will be challenging under current financial conditions," Nature examines research efforts to find the optimal dose of the antiretroviral drug efavirenz. "At last month's International AIDS Society (IAS) conference in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, researchers presented preliminary results from a clinical trial that showed a lower dose of the commonly used antiretroviral drug efavirenz was just as effective as the approved higher dose and seemed to cause fewer side effects in study participants," the magazine writes. "The fact that this very useful drug can be used in a reduced dose is a big deal. This is a money saver that will allow us to treat more patients," Keith Crawford, assistant chief of public health research at the U.S. Military HIV Research Program in Bethesda, Maryland, said, according to Nature. The magazine details the study, "one of several dose optimization trials being pursued in an effort to increase access to drugs in a cost-effective manner while also reducing toxicity from the drugs," and writes, "With the verdict of the ENCORE1 trial now in, the study investigators plan to start working with the FDA on regulatory approval as well as with the drug manufacturers to create lower-dose pills, says [Sean Emery, principal investigator of the ENCORE1 study]" (Heger, 8/6).