VaxGen Announces Phase III Trial Data For AIDSVAX Not Yet Available
Brisbane, Calif.-based biotech firm VaxGen on Wednesday announced that it does not yet know the results of its Phase III clinical trial of AIDSVAX, but the company plans to release the data by the end of March when analyses are complete, Reuters reports. The announcement came amid speculation that the trial of the experimental HIV vaccine "had proven dissapointing," according to Reuters. VaxGen's shares on Nasdaq fell $2.00, or 10%, to $17.65 on Wednesday (Reuters, 1/22). "A rumor reported on the Internet today indicated that the company's stock had fallen because the Phase III trial ... had produced unfavorable results," a company press release stated, adding, "Once again, no data are available yet to conclude if or how effective the vaccine is" (VaxGen release, 1/22). Researchers are trying to determine whether AIDSVAX is effective in protecting against HIV infection. Half of the 5,100 homosexual men and 300 women with multiple sex partners who are participanting in the trial received the vaccine, and half received a placebo, which was injected by doctors in hundreds of locations. In addition, VaxGen later this year is expected to announce the results of a trial of the vaccine that included 2,400 injection drug users in Thailand. The FDA has already fast-tracked the review process for AIDSVAX (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 1/9).
Wired Profiles VaxGen Founder
The January 2003 issue of Wired magazine profiles VaxGen founder Don Francis, whose "single-minded crusade has made him a professional lightning rod." Seth Berkley, president and CEO of the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative, said, "Don Francis is a hero because he has been out there screaming and pushing. ... Whether he's successful or not, he has done something people said you couldn't do. It's crazy that after 20 years we've got only one vaccine in Phase III trials. Don has proven you can pull it off" (Martin, Wired, January 2003). The full article is available online.