If your been-there-done-that anti-HIV drug list
is longer than the one for your Thanksgiving grocery list, Boston's
Cal Cohen, MD, may have some good news. A recent yearlong trial of through-the-med-mill
HIVers showed encouraging results with T-20, Hoffmann La Roche and Trimeris'
phase II experimental antiretro-viral -- at least when taken with other
meds chosen individually based on resistance testing and clinical history.
"This first drug in a new class known as fusion inhibitors is exactly
what's needed for the many PWAs who need a second chance," Cohen says.
In contrast to all current anti-HIV meds that only work after the virus
is inside cells, fusion inhibitors block the virus from entering
them. (For more on T-20 and its class, see "This Little Drug Went to
Market," POZ, May 2000.)
The median number of anti-HIV meds previously
taken by trial participants was a whopping 10, and 80 percent had taken
at least one drug from each of the three approved antiretroviral drug
classes (nukes, NNRTIs and protease inhibitors). More than half of those
taking T-20 regimens had at least a one-log (ten-fold) reduction in
viral load (considered enough to slow disease progression) and/or reached
an undetectable viral load. Although conclusions from the study are
hampered by a high dropout rate -- 31 out of 71 original participants
quit -- only one-fifth stopped because of a lack of viral effect, and
no one because of T-20 toxicity.