In late June 2017, Health Canada licensed the sale and use of a new formulation of the anti-HIV drug raltegravir (Isentress) as part of the treatment of HIV. The new formulation is called Isentress HD (high dose). The formulation can be taken once daily with or without food.
Raltegravir belongs to a family of drugs called integrase inhibitors. As part of combination therapy, integrase inhibitors can usually quickly reduce and suppress the amount of HIV in the blood to very low levels that are commonly called undetectable. In general, Isentress HD does not affect the level of many other drugs in the body and vice versa.
Raltegravir was the first HIV integrase inhibitor, introduced to Canada and other high-income countries in 2007. It has a decade of generally good safety and antiviral activity.
Isentress HD should not be confused with the earlier formulation, which needs to be taken twice daily.
Isentress HD is meant for adults who either have never previously taken HIV treatment or who are currently taken a regimen based on the older formulation of raltegravir and whose viral load is undetectable.
The approval of Isentress HD was based on a clinical trial of that formulation that was conducted over two years. In this issue of TreatmentUpdate we report on the first year of that study. The final two-year results will be released at a biomedical conference later this year.
Isentress HD will not become available in Canada until later this year, perhaps in the Autumn.