July 23, 2009
Patients who added Merck's HIV drug Isentress to their regular daily HIV drug regimen "fared no better than those who added a placebo to the mix," as the drug failed to "reduce low-level reservoirs of HIV," in the body, according to findings presented at the International AIDS Society conference in Cape Town, South Africa, Bloomberg reports. As part of the 53-participant study led by Harvard University, researchers looked at patients whose viral loads were at undetectable levels and "were given either Isentress or a placebo for 12 weeks, then switched to the alternate agent for an additional 12 weeks. The study found no difference in low levels of the virus between the two groups, using a highly sensitive test," the article states. "The results are a setback for doctors looking for ways to seek and destroy the last vestiges of HIV, which aren't reached by currently available drugs. Eliminating these so-called viral reservoirs may potentially cure patients, allowing them to stop taking daily medicines," according to Bloomberg (Pettypiece, 7/22).