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Medical News

Antiretroviral Drug Fuzeon Sales Slower Than Expected; High Cost, Injection Delivery Method Cited

September 16, 2003

A note from TheBody.com: Since this article was written, the HIV pandemic has changed, as has our understanding of HIV/AIDS and its treatment. As a result, parts of this article may be outdated. Please keep this in mind, and be sure to visit other parts of our site for more recent information!

Sales of the antiretroviral drug Fuzeon, which attracted worldwide attention earlier this year, have been slower than expected, the Raleigh News & Observer reports. The drug has "ru[n] into resistance" from doctors and patients because of its high cost and injection delivery method (Vollmer, Raleigh News & Observer, 9/16). The FDA in March approved Fuzeon, which is designed for HIV/AIDS patients who have failed to respond to other medications. The drug, developed by pharmaceutical companies Roche and Trimeris, costs about $20,000 per patient per year, double the price of the most expensive HIV treatments currently on the market. Fuzeon is in a new class of drugs called fusion inhibitors, which prevent HIV from entering cells by preventing the virus from attaching to cell membranes (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 8/25). Shares of Trimeris "tumbled" yesterday after the brokerage firm SG Cowen said that Fuzeon's slow sales would delay the company's profitability by two years, according to Dow Jones/AP. "Unlike the current oral HIV agents, Fuzeon requires multiple steps to prepare and reconstitute for injection," SG Cowen analyst Yaron Werber wrote in a research note, adding, "Additionally, pain and unattractive nodules stemming from injection site reactions are deterrents" (Dow Jones/AP, 9/16).

Supply and Demand
Werber wrote that physicians now estimate that only 10% of HIV-positive patients will be candidates for Fuzeon, whereas doctors originally believed that 27% of patients would be possible candidates, according to the News & Observer. When the drug was approved, some analysts speculated that the company would be unable to make enough of the drug to meet demand, the News & Observer reports. However, analysts now say that demand, not supply, is hampering the drug's sales. In addition, some states are "cautious" about including Fuzeon under Medicaid coverage because of the drug's high cost. California currently requires doctors to gain prior authorization before prescribing the drug, according to AIDS Healthcare Foundation President Michael Weinstein. To help lift sales, Trimeris may target nurses to educate patients about injecting themselves and may look into auto-injection devices and multidose vials, company spokesperson Robin Fastenau said. An effective oral version of Fuzeon "is years from becoming a reality," Fastenau said, according to the News & Observer. Fuzeon loses its effectiveness when taken orally in its current formula (Raleigh News & Observer, 9/16).

Back to other news for September 16, 2003


Reprinted with permission from kaisernetwork.org. You can view the entire Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, search the archives, or sign up for email delivery at www.kaisernetwork.org/dailyreports/hiv. The Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report is published for kaisernetwork.org, a free service of the Kaiser Family Foundation, by The Advisory Board Company. © 2003 by The Advisory Board Company and Kaiser Family Foundation. All rights reserved.

A note from TheBody.com: Since this article was written, the HIV pandemic has changed, as has our understanding of HIV/AIDS and its treatment. As a result, parts of this article may be outdated. Please keep this in mind, and be sure to visit other parts of our site for more recent information!



  
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This article was provided by Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. It is a part of the publication Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report. Visit the Kaiser Family Foundation's website to find out more about their activities, publications and services.
 
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