Raleigh News & Observer Examines ’10-Year Odyssey’ That Resulted in FDA Approval of Antiretroviral Fuzeon
The Raleigh News & Observer yesterday examined biotech company Trimeris' "10-year odyssey" of developing and bringing to market the antiretroviral drug Fuzeon, which received FDA approval on Thursday. The company was formed in 1992 after Duke University scientist Tom Matthews discovered Peptide 178 while working to find an HIV vaccine, and the company subsequently received hundreds of millions of dollars in investments to develop the new approach to fighting HIV (Ranii, Raleigh News & Observer, 3/16). Unlike the three other classes of HIV treatments -- nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors, non-nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors and protease inhibitors -- which all attack the virus after it enters the cell, Fuzeon is in a new class of drugs called fusion inhibitors, which prevent the virus from entering cells by prohibiting the virus from attaching to cell membranes (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 3/14). "[N]othing about bringing the drug to market has been easy, and difficult issues remain unresolved," according to the News & Observer. Trimeris and Roche, its corporate partner, have said that it will be difficult to meet demand for the drug. In addition, the cost of the drug -- expected to be approximately $20,000 per year per patient -- could make the drug inaccessible to low-income HIV-positive patients, according to the News & Observer (Raleigh News & Observer, 3/16).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.