Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations
Roche Expects New HIV Drug T-20 to Be Available by 2003
Roche Holding AG announced yesterday that its "revolutionary" new HIV drug T-20 should be available in 2003, Reuters reports. T-20 is the first drug in a new class of antiretrovirals called fusion inhibitors, which work by blocking HIV from penetrating the cells it attacks. Scientists hope that the new class of drugs will help fight HIV in patients who have experienced treatment failure with traditional antiretrovirals. T-20, which is being developed by Roche and the U.S. biotech firm Trimeris Inc., would be administered by injection, not in pill form like other antiretrovirals. William Burns, head of Roche's drug division, said that Phase III clinical trials of T-20 have "just closed" and that a request for FDA approval would be filed in the second half of 2002, "with launch likely in 2003." Roche Chair Franz Humer said he expects T-20 to gain "rapid approval" first in Europe and then in the United States, with countries around the world following suit (Reuters, 8/15). In May, Roche and Trimeris announced they would offer T-20 to 450 people under an expanded access program, in addition to the 550-600 patients receiving the drug as part of a Phase III clinical trial, but activists have said that this expansion is "catastrophically" inadequate and that the companies should offer the treatment to more people (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 5/28).
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