New HIV Drug Curbs Drug-Resistant HIV
Experimental Drug, Called Etravirine, Shows Benefits as Part of HIV Treatment 'Cocktail'
July 5, 2007 -- An experimental HIV drug called etravirine may help treat
drug-resistant HIV as part of an HIV drug "cocktail" that also includes
the HIV medication Prezista.
That news -- published in The Lancet's July 7 edition -- may mean
greater survival for people with HIV.
"This study is one of the most significant worldwide HIV/AIDS clinical
trials in recent years," says researcher William Towner, MD, of Kaiser
Permanente Southern California, in a Kaiser Permanente news release.
Towner is the medical
director of Kaiser Permanente Southern California's HIV/AIDS Research Trials.
He is also the Kaiser Permanente Southern California regional HIV/AIDS
HIV Drug Study
The study included nearly 600 people with drug-resistant HIV in the U.S.,
U.K., Canada, Australia, and eight European nations.
The patients had already unsuccessfully tried other drugs that target HIV,
the virus that causes AIDS.
The researchers -- who included Towner and Adriano Lazzarin, MD, of San
Raffaele University in Milan, Italy -- split the patients into two groups.
All of the patients took various HIV drugs including Prezista and Norvir.
Half of the patients took etravirine in addition to Prezista, Norvir, and other
Etravirine Study Results
After taking their assigned drugs
for six months, a greater percentage of patients taking the addition of
etravirine than those not taking etravirine reduced their blood level of HIV to
very low levels.
In other words, adding etravirine
to a mixture of medicines for HIV helped curb drug-resistant HIV.
Etravirine didn't seem to add new
side effects to those seen with other treatments for HIIV. Side effects
with etravirine included diarrhea, nausea, and rash.
Etravirine is "an encouraging new agent in this antiretroviral
class," write the researchers.
Their study was funded by the drug company Tibotec, which makes etravirine
and Prezista. Tibotec is a Johnson & Johnson company.
Several of the researchers who worked on the etravirine study are Tibotec
employees. Others note financial ties to various drug companies.
New Hope for Drug-Resistant HIV?
The Lancet also includes an editorial by Swiss researchers including
Bernard Hirschel, MD, of Geneva University Hospital's division of infectious
Hirschel's team pooled data from two etravirine studies published in The
Lancet. They conclude that adding etravirine to Prezista and other HIV
drugs halves patients' chances of HIV worsening within six months.
"People care whether they get sick and die, and rather less whether
their laboratory tests are normal," write Hirschel and colleagues.
"Occasionally, one hears that the days of innovation in HIV therapy are
over and that there is neither the scientific nor economic incentive for
further progress," they continue. "Such pessimism is not
In the journal, Hirschel notes that he worked on a previous etravirine study
and is connected to an ongoing study on Prezista. Hirschel also discloses
financial ties to drug companies including Tibotec.