AP/Forbes Examines Risks of New Class of Antiretroviral Drugs To Treat HIV
The AP/Forbes on Monday examined the "serious safety risks" of a new class of antiretroviral drugs called CCR5 receptor antagonists (Bridges, AP/Forbes, 6/19). CCR5 receptor antagonists -- also known as CCR5 inhibitors -- aim to prevent HIV from entering human cells rather than fight the virus once it has entered cells. CCR5 inhibitors block HIV from docking with a human cell's CCR5 receptor, which is where HIV usually latches onto a cell to enter it. Previous studies have shown that people who lack CCR5 receptors because of genetic mutations rarely contract HIV (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 4/13/05). The difference between CCR5 inhibitors and other antiretroviral drugs is that CCR5 inhibitors do not "target HIV itself" but instead "tinker" with white blood cells that play a crucial role in the immune system, the AP/Forbes reports. In clinical trials, some of the drugs have been linked to liver damage and cancer, and "[m]ost worrisome" is that genetic mutation of HIV might be accelerated by the drugs, according to the AP/Forbes. "HIV profoundly affects the immune system," Veronica Miller, director of the Forum for Collaborative HIV Research at George Washington University, said, adding, "We are adding another layer of complexity by using a drug that also affects the immune system." Several pharmaceutical companies have halted trials of CCR5 inhibitors after participants showed signs of liver damage. FDA as a condition of approval for CCR5 inhibitors suggested that pharmaceutical companies follow up clinical trial participants for five years to gauge long-term effects of the drugs. However, researchers, drug companies and others have said that is not possible because of the mobility of U.S. residents and the likelihood that participants will start taking other antiretrovirals, the AP/Forbes reports. (AP/Forbes, 6/19).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.