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Raleigh News & Observer Examines Efforts to Increase Sales of Antiretroviral Drug Fuzeon in North America

November 2, 2005

The Raleigh News & Observer on Tuesday examined efforts by the Durham, N.C.-based pharmaceutical company Trimeris and Swiss pharmaceutical company Roche to increase sales of their antiretroviral drug Fuzeon in the North American market (Vollmer, Raleigh News & Observer, 11/1). Fuzeon, which is a fusion inhibitor, is administered with a needle and approved to treat HIV infection in combination with other antiretrovirals. Trimeris said that sales of Fuzeon dropped from $53.9 million in the second quarter of 2005 to $48.9 million in the third quarter. Although Fuzeon has not met the companies' expectations for sales since it launched the drug in 2003, sales had increased the previous three quarters (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 10/20). Currently, about 10% of eligible U.S. HIV-positive patients take Fuzeon. However, recent changes to treatment guidelines suggest using the drug in new combinations, which triples the number of U.S. patients who are eligible to receive the drug. According to Sharon Seiler, a Punk, Zielgel analyst in New York, the number of prescriptions for Fuzeon rose significantly between August and September (Raleigh News & Observer, 11/1). In addition, Roche and Trimeris in July announced they have filed for FDA approval to use Bioject Medical Technologies' Biojector 2000 injection system, a needle-free injection device, to administer Fuzeon (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 10/20). FDA is expected to decide on the application by mid-November (Raleigh News & Observer, 11/1).

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