Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started
My Medicine

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

HIV & AIDS Health Center

Font Size

New HIV Drug Leads the Pack

WebMD Health News

Dec. 15, 1999 (Atlanta) -- A new drug for HIV disease is changing HIV treatment.

Until now, the most effective of the so-called drug cocktails designed to keep HIV in check have contained a class of drugs called protease inhibitors. But now a member of a new class of drugs -- the non-nucleoside reverse-transcriptase inhibitors, or NNRTIs -- appears to work better and be easier to take.

The new NNRTI is Sustiva, also known as efavirenz. The first of two studies published in TheNew England Journal of Medicine showed that the drug works better than the protease inhibitor Crixivan (indinavir) when used in combination with two established HIV drugs (AZT [zidovudine] and 3TC [lamivudine]).

The second study shows that children as young as 4 years old respond very well to a cocktail of Sustiva, the protease inhibitor Viracept (nelfinavir), and at least one drug in the same class as AZT.

"We are really very pleased with the long-term viral suppression," Stuart E. Starr, MD, lead author of the pediatric study, tells WebMD. "The take-home lesson is that this is a very potent combination of antiretroviral agents."

These findings mean that drug combinations including Sustiva are likely to become the first-line standard of care for both adult and pediatric patients with early HIV infection.

The published findings show that the Sustiva combinations maintain their effect for 48 weeks. But in interviews with WebMD, co-authors of both studies say that among study participants whose HIV viral loads became undetectable while on combination therapy including Sustiva -- 63% of children and 70% of adults -- virtually all maintained undetectable viral loads for up to 88 weeks.

Both studies enrolled patients with relatively early HIV disease with limited previous exposure to medications. The adults had never received any NNRTI, any protease inhibitor, or 3TC. Children had never received an NNRTI or protease inhibitor.

Long-term therapy with protease inhibitors is known to cause problems with fat metabolism -- often leading to changes in physical appearance -- and symptoms such as nausea and diarrhea.

Douglas Manion, MD, medical director of DuPont Pharmaceuticals and co-author of the adult study, was even more enthusiastic about the results. DuPont manufactures Sustiva. The firm wholly funded the adult study and partially funded the pediatric study (conducted with the National Institutes of Health).

Today on WebMD

How much do you know?
contemplative man
What to do now.
Should you be tested?
HIV under microscope
What does it mean?
HIV AIDS Screening
man opening condom wrapper
HIV AIDS Treatment
Discrimination Stigma
Treatment Side Effects
grilled chicken and vegetables
obese man standing on scale
cold sore