Officials from pharmaceutical company Roche announced Monday at the International AIDS Society's Conference on Pathogenesis and Treatment that the company expects to be able to produce 50% more of its HIV fusion inhibitor, Fuzeon, than initially expected. The injectable drug, the first ever to be developed in the fusion inhibitor medication class, was approved by the Food and Drug Administration on March 13.
Roche and Fuzeon codeveloper Trimeris had initially projected that they would be able to provide the drug to only about 12,000 to 15,000 patients by the end of the year due to Fuzeon's complex manufacturing process. However, the companies now say they'll have enough supply for about 18,000 HIV-positive patients by the end of the year. Roche also plans to make improvements and address manufacturing issues at its Colorado manufacturing plant to boost production even further in the coming months.
Fuzeon works by preventing HIV from being able to latch on to and infect immune system cells. It is the only FDA-approved anti-HIV drug that works outside of the cells; all other available antiretroviral medications work to hamper HIV replication after the virus has already penetrated immune system cells.