Fuzeon Side Effects Likely Will Limit Drug’s Use to Two, Three Years, Industry Analyst Says
The side effects of injecting the antiretroviral drug Fuzeon likely will limit each HIV-positive person's use of the drug to two or three years because they will "eventually run out of skin surface for injection," Thomas Wei, an analyst at Piper Jaffray, wrote in a report released Friday, the Raleigh News & Observer reports (Ranii, Raleigh News & Observer, 9/8). Durham, N.C.-based Trimeris and Swiss drug maker Roche jointly developed Fuzeon, which is in a class of drugs called fusion inhibitors and is designed for HIV/AIDS patients who have failed to respond to other medications. The drug has encountered resistance from doctors and patients because of its high cost -- about $20,000 per patient per year -- and injection delivery method (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 4/22). Wei spoke with an HIV consultant who said that Fuzeon likely never will become "a commercial success," primarily because it is injectable and can cause small knots at the injection site that are severe in 10% to 15% of patients, the report states, according to the News & Observer. Sharon Seiler, an analyst at Punk, Ziegel & Company, said that such adverse events would not significantly affect the drug's sales because HIV-positive people who have developed resistance to other antiretroviral drugs "don't have other options." Walter Capone, vice president of commercial operations at Trimeris, said that Wei's report does not adequately measure Fuzeon's benefits against its potential side effects. He said that the discontinuation rate among Fuzeon users is similar to that of other antiretroviral drugs that are administered orally (Raleigh News & Observer, 9/8). To increase demand for the drug, Trimeris is working on a new formula for Fuzeon that would reduce injections from twice daily to once per week or even less frequently (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 4/22).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.