Roche To Stop Selling Protease Inhibitor Fortovase in 2006 Because of Decreased Demand, New Formulation of Similar Drug
The Swiss pharmaceutical company Roche on Wednesday announced that it plans to stop selling its protease inhibitor Fortovase -- known generically as saquinavir -- in early 2006 because of decreased demand for the drug and increased demand for a newer formulation of saquinavir, called Invirase, the AP/Forbes reports (AP/Forbes, 5/18). FDA in December 2004 approved 500 mg Invirase tablets, which are taken twice daily with 100 mg ritonavir as a "booster" (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 12/21/04). A regimen of Invirase uses fewer pills than Fortovase, does not require refrigeration as Fortovase does and is "better tolerated" by the digestive system, according to the AP/Forbes (AP/Forbes, 5/18). Roche said the decision to stop selling Fortovase is not a result of concerns about safety or efficacy (Reuters, 5/18). "The Fortovase formulation no longer meets the demands of convenience and tolerability expected by patients today," Frederick Schmid, vice president of virology/HIV at Roche, said, adding, "In keeping with our research focus to optimize delivery of current therapies and develop novel treatments for people living with HIV/AIDS, we have determined that it is time to focus our resources on the availability of Invirase, which offers significant improvements in convenience and GI tolerance. We've taken great care to plan this discontinuation in such a manner as to allow physicians and patients adequate time to consider and transition to boosted Invirase" (Olen, Daily News Central, 5/18). Paula Toynton, senior director of education, prevention and advocacy for the Hyacinth AIDS Foundation in New Jersey, said she did not believe Fortovase's removal from the market would "hurt anything," adding, "It was on the B-team anyway at this point. I don't run into a lot of people on it" (Krauskopf, Bergen Record, 5/19).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.