Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations
Merck Optimistic About Experimental AIDS Vaccine
Merck & Co. made a "bold prediction" Tuesday that its experimental AIDS vaccine will someday prove to be effective, Reuters/Newsday reports. While the company stated that the vaccine is still in "very early human trials," Merck head researcher
Edward Scolnick told analysts at the company's annual meeting, "My feeling and fond hope is that I, or my eventual successor, will someday be in front of you, telling you about the efficacy of this vaccine program" (Reuters/Newsday, 12/13). Scolnick added that Merck "had suffered failure after failure" in its 17 years of research on the vaccine, but current trials had raised his confidence. Scolnick explained that Merck's current experimental vaccines incorporate specific genes of HIV that are found in various strains of the virus. The vaccines stimulate antibodies against HIV and "prod" different cellular immune system cells to attack the virus. AIDS advocacy groups were pleased and encouraged by Merck's announcement. Gregg Gonsalves, policy director for the AIDS research and advocacy group
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