Merck Provides International Partnership With Experimental Drug To Develop MicrobicideMerck has agreed to provide the International Partnership for Microbicides with its experimental antiretroviral drug L'644 to develop a microbicide that could protect women against HIV, the partnership announced on Tuesday, Reuters reports (Fox, Reuters, 3/11). Microbicides include a range of products -- such as gels, films and sponges -- that could help prevent the sexual transmission of HIV and other infections (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 2/26). L'644 is a member of a class of drugs known as gp41 fusion inhibitors, which block HIV from attaching to immune system cells.
IPM's CEO Zeda Rosenberg said L'644 is the sixth antiretroviral to be tested by the group. "It's a completely different mechanism of action to what we have currently under development and what the field has under development," she said, adding, "It's pretty early in the life cycle for HIV. Most of us feel that, for a microbicide to be really effective, it has to get at the infection in its earliest time points" (Reuters, 3/11).
"Merck is pleased to contribute the results of our research and development to this worldwide effort to protect women from HIV infection," Daria Hazuda, vice president of scientific affairs for infectious disease and HIV at Merck Research Laboratories, said (IPM release, 3/11).
IPM also has an agreement with Merck for a royalty-free license to develop the compound L'167/CMPD167, which belongs to the class of antiretrovirals called CCR5 inhibitors, Reuters reports (Reuters, 3/11). In addition, IPM has agreements with Pfizer for its antiretroviral maraviroc; with Gilead Sciences for its antiretroviral tenofovir; with Bristol-Myers Squibb; and with Johnson & Johnson subsidiary Tibotec Pharmaceuticals for its antiretroviral dapivirine (IPM release, 3/11). This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.