Fauci Predicts AIDS Vaccine Will Not Be Available for at Least 10 YearsNational Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Director Dr. Anthony Fauci told the Presidential Advisory Council on HIV and AIDS on Friday that a "broadly effective" AIDS vaccine "could be a decade or more away," the Los Angeles Times reports. Fauci stated that clinical trials have begun on an AIDS vaccine that "seems to have at least a partial effect," adding that a vaccine of even "modest effectiveness" could be useful for nations with high rates of HIV infection (AP/Los Angeles Times, 3/16). Researchers last month told the Ninth Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections that the vaccine, developed by Merck & Co., has proven highly effective in studies with monkeys and is yielding encouraging results in early human clinical trials (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 2/27). However, "[t]here are still a lot of important unanswered questions," Fauci said, adding, "Do I think in five years we are going to have a vaccine that is going to prevent AIDS? Probably not" (AP/Los Angeles Times, 3/16). Fauci also said that any AIDS vaccine developed in the future would likely require "periodic boosters," rather than a "one-time injection." In his address to the council, Fauci warned against "becoming complacent" in the fight against AIDS, noting that "we might not yet be at the peak of the HIV pandemic worldwide."
Viracept Price Freeze
Meanwhile, Hank McKinnell, CEO of Pfizer Inc., told the advisory council on Friday that the drug maker will not raise the price of its antiretroviral Viracept, a protease inhibitor known generically as nelfinavir, for two years. "We want all patients to have access to needed medicines," he said. The drug costs $2.02 per tablet at the wholesale price, and patients take the drug two times per day (AP/Augusta Chronicle, 3/17).