Sales of Antiretroviral Drug Fuzeon Lower Than Industry Analysts Expected
Sales of the antiretroviral drug Fuzeon, which was jointly developed by Swiss drug maker Roche and U.S. biotechnology company Trimeris, have been "slower ... than many industry analysts expected," the Raleigh News & Observer reports (Vollmer, Raleigh News & Observer, 2/4). Fuzeon, which is in a class of drugs called fusion inhibitors, has encountered resistance from doctors and patients because of its high cost and injection delivery method. The drug costs about $20,000 per patient per year. The drug is designed for HIV/AIDS patients who have failed to respond to other medications (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 1/7). Although Fuzeon is considered to be "revolutionary" in HIV treatment, some doctors and patients have been "turned off" to it, and more patients than expected have dropped the therapy, according to the News & Observer. Sales of the drug rose from 7,300 one-month supply kits in the third quarter of 2003 to 9,000 kits in the fourth quarter of 2003, but the patient drop-out rate was 25% -- about twice as high as some analysts had predicted. Roche has planned a Fuzeon education campaign for doctors, nurses and patients, as well as post-marketing studies comparing the drug to other antiretrovirals, the News & Observer reports. The initiatives could boost sales of Fuzeon in six to nine months, Dr. David Boucher, an analyst at investment company CE Unterberg Towbin, said (Raleigh News & Observer, 2/4). Roche on Wednesday said it would not change sales forecasts for Fuzeon, despite disappointing sales (Reuters, 2/4).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.