Drugmakers Trimeris and Roche are currently testing whether it may be possible to administer their HIV fusion inhibitor Fuzeon without the need for twice daily injections with syringes, the Raleigh [N.C.] News and Observer reports. The companies are studying the use of a needle-free device known as the Biojector, which administers medications through the skin via a high-powered spray of gas, as an alternative to twice-daily shots of the medication. Sales of the drug, which costs about $20,000 for a one-year supply, are less than the drug companies had hoped, and some studies have suggested the fact that Fuzeon is injectable have contributed to a reluctance by some patients to use the medication. The twice-daily injections also commonly leave painful welts on the skin. About one-quarter of HIV patients prescribed Fuzeon stop taking the medication within the first month, according to Trimeris.
The Biojector, developed by Bioject Medical Technologies and approved by the Food and Drug Administration, can deliver medications into muscle below the skin without leaving such welts. A study of 27 HIV-positive people showed that use of the Biojector was as effective as syringes in administering the medication below the skin, and was better tolerated than syringe use. "We hope the device can become a viable alternative to the traditional needle and syringe," Trimeris marketing director Alex Dusek told the News and Observer. "But we're in the middle of evaluations. It's too early to say where we'll go from here."
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