New AIDS Drug, New Abbott Rival
October 30, 2008
At this week's 48th Annual Interscience Conference on Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy in Washington, a head-to-head study of two AIDS drugs found Johnson & Johnson's Prezista is "non-inferior" to Abbott Laboratories' Kaletra.
About 10 protease inhibitors are sold in the United States, including the blockbuster Kaletra and around a half-dozen newer, next-generation medicines like Prezista. PIs bind and block a key enzyme vital to HIV's growth, making it undetectable in human blood for longer periods of time.
In a 96-week study of 689 patients, 79 percent of participants taking Prezista had undetectable HIV levels, compared with 71 percent in the Kaletra group. The study was funded by Tibotec, a Johnson & Johnson company.
Physicians point out that Prezista needs Norvir -- Abbott's older PI -- as a booster to work as well as Kaletra. And they note that patients like the convenience of Kaletra, which requires fewer pills since its formulation contains Norvir.
"It is also important to remember that HIV patients will need to be on therapy for decades," said Abbott spokesperson Melissa Brotz. "Results from 48-week or 96-week studies do not necessarily provide enough information for the long term."