Dolutegravir, the once-daily integrase inhibitor that doesn't require boosting, continues to leave a trail of encouraging news on its path to approval. Combined with the dual-nuke tablet Epzicom (abacavir and lamivudine)—and a pill containing all three drugs is in development—dolutegravir made a rare achievement in an ongoing Phase III clinical trial: an efficacy advantage over that of a tried-and-true standard, Atripla, in first-time treatment takers.

Reported at a September conference, preliminary data from the 830-person SINGLE study found that   88 percent of those using dolutegravir and Epzicom had undetectable viral loads, compared with 81 percent using Atripla—a difference that was statistically significant, meaning it was too great to have occurred by chance.

Also encouraging: Dolutegravir is active against strains of HIV resistant to Isentress (raltegravir) and elvitegravir, suggesting that it may also be useful for people who no longer respond to them.