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Medical News

Gilead, Bristol-Myers Squibb Develop Once-a-Day Pill for Treating HIV; Study Shows Pill More Effective Than Standard Regimen

January 19, 2006

Gilead and Bristol-Myers Squibb say they jointly have developed a once-a-day pill for treating HIV that is effective in suppressing HIV viral loads and has few side effects, according to a study published on Thursday in the New England Journal of Medicine, the Washington Post reports (Gillis, Washington Post, 1/19). Joel Gallant of Johns Hopkins University and colleagues looked at 517 HIV-positive patients who had never received antiretroviral therapy and had HIV viral loads greater than 10,000 copies per milliliter (Gallant et al., New England Journal of Medicine, 1/19). The patients were randomly divided into two groups: one group received a one-pill combination of BMS' Sustiva and Gilead's Viread and Emtriva -- already sold together as Truvada -- and the other group received a combination of Sustiva and GlaxoSmithKline's Combivir (Vollmer, Charlotte News & Observer, 1/19). Combivir, which is taken twice daily, is the standard treatment taken by one in five HIV-positive patients in the U.S., according to GSK (Tansey, San Francisco Chronicle, 1/19). After 48 weeks, researchers found "significantly greater responses" in the group receiving the once-a-day pill, with 84% of patients in that group showing a reduced viral load compared with 73% in the other group. According to the study, patients taking the once-a-day pill also experienced fewer side effects associated with the standard three-drug regimen (New England Journal of Medicine, 1/19).

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"I think it's a huge thing these companies are going to do," Nelson Vergel, an HIV/AIDS treatment activist in Houston, said, adding that with the "right price" in developing countries, the pill could become the "main treatment [for HIV] in the world" (Washington Post, 1/19). However, GSK in a statement questioned the value of the results of a single study, adding that Combivir has been tested in more than 50 studies and each time has been proven effective. Mark Shaefer, head of GSK's HIV drug development division, said, "We are always interested in learning more about existing treatments for HIV, but we realize the limited value of a single, open-label study to make comparisons among products" (Charlotte News & Observer, 1/19). Gilead and BMS plan to seek approval for the pill in the U.S. and Europe by the end of 2006 (Washington Post, 1/19).

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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. © 2006 by The Advisory Board Company and Kaiser Family Foundation. All rights reserved.



  
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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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