Although the experimental HIV entry inhibitor Fuzeon, currently under review by the Food and Drug Administration, will initially be offered to patients experiencing resistance to other anti-HIV drugs, a new study shows that people with lower levels of drug resistance might benefit even more from the medication, The Wall Street Journal reports. Fuzeon, developed by Roche and Trimeris, works outside immune system cells by preventing HIV from being able to attach to and invade the cells. The study of 491 treatment-naive HIV-positive adults showed that after 24 weeks of treatment, those with low initial drug resistance as determined by genetic tests showed the greatest reduction in viral load when treated with Fuzeon as a part of combination therapy. Additional studies are planned to evaluate the effectiveness of the anti-HIV drug on patients with little or no resistance to other HIV antiretrovirals.
Fuzeon, which is expected to be approved by the FDA late this year or in early 2003, will cost between $12,000 and $15,000 per patient per year. The drug, formerly known as T-20, must be injected. Roche and Trimeris are currently developing a second-generation version of the drug known as T-1249, which in studies to date has shown to be more potent and have a longer half-life in the blood than Fuzeon.