Roche To Stop Selling Protease Inhibitor Fortovase Because of Decreased Demand, New Formulation of Similar Drug
Switzerland-based pharmaceutical company Roche on Monday announced that as of Feb. 15 it will stop selling its protease inhibitor Fortovase -- known generically as saquinavir -- in the U.S. because of decreased demand for the drug and increased demand for a newer formulation of saquinavir, called Invirase, Reuters reports. The company in May 2005 announced plans to discontinue the drug (Reuters, 2/6). FDA in December 2004 approved 500 mg Invirase tablets, which are taken twice daily with 100 mg ritonavir as a "booster." A regimen of Invirase uses fewer pills than Fortovase, does not require refrigeration as Fortovase does and is better tolerated by the digestive system (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 5/20/05). Roche said the decision to stop selling Fortovase is voluntary and not a result of concerns about safety or efficacy. The company also said it made the decision in response to updated HIV treatment guidelines from HHS, which no longer recommends the drug be used as a component of a first- or second-line treatment regimen (Roche release, 2/6). Since Roche made the initial announcement last year, the company has been encouraging doctors not to start patients on Fortovase treatments (Reuters, 2/6).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.