July 7, 2003
Thai medical officials involved in the trial told the Thai press that they had been unofficially informed that VaxGen was pulling out. But in a statement Thursday, VaxGen said it "has every intention of completing its Phase III trial in Thailand, including the final analysis, and announcing the preliminary results, as planned, in the fourth quarter of 2003." The first two phases of the testing began in Bangkok in 1998, and the third phase, involving 2,500 volunteers recruited from drug rehabilitation clinics in the city, was launched in March 1999.
In February, VaxGen announced disappointing results for its AIDSVAX vaccine based on a trial in the United States. It reported there was no meaningful difference in protection between the 3,330 volunteers who received the vaccine and the 1,679 who received a placebo. All the participants were at high risk of contracting HIV.
VaxGen has spent $200 million developing its vaccine, and, despite the U.S. trial results, the company remains hopeful that the vaccine will someday slow the spread of AIDS.