Because the injectable anti-HIV drug Fuzeon can cause small knots on the skin where it is injected--and severe skin reactions in 10% to 15% of the people who take it--the drug's use will likely be limited to just two to three years because patients will "eventually run out of skin surface for injection," according to an new analyst report, The News and Observer of Raleigh, N.C., reports. Thomas Wei, an analyst at Piper Jaffray, suggests that Fuzeon will likely never become a huge commercial success because of the skin reactions associated with its twice-daily injections. Other studies have suggested Fuzeon's price tag--about $20,000 per year--also are restricting its use.
But not all analysts agree with Wei's report. Sharon Seiler, an analyst at Punk, Ziegel, and Co., says adverse side effects are likely not going to be enough to prevent HIV patients who've exhausted all other treatment options from using Fuzeon. Officials at pharmaceutical company Trimeris, which markets Fuzeon jointly with Roche, note that the discontinuation rate among Fuzeon users is similar to that of other anti-HIV medications. Trimeris also reports that it is working on a new formulation of Fuzeon that could reduce the number of injections required in order to minimize skin reactions.