The first new oral class of HIV treatment in more than a decade has today been launched for use in the UK.
According to Pfizer, Celsentri (maraviroc) represents a significant innovation in the treatment of HIV infection.
Maraviroc, which was licensed by the European Agency for the Evaluation of Medicinal Products (EMEA) in September 2007, works in an entirely new way.
It is the first in a new class of HIV medicines called CCR5 antagonists and is licensed for treatment-experienced patients infected with only CCR5-tropic HIV-1 (in combination with other antiretroviral medicinal products).
It is the first HIV treatment that works on the body rather than on the virus.
Maraviroc works by blocking the virus entry into human immune (CD4) cells, preventing HIV from entering and replicating.
All other currently available oral HIV medicines work on the HIV virus once it has entered the immune cells.
This development now enables clinicians to build treatment regimens that work on the body and the virus at the same time and target HIV both inside and outside the cell.
Dr David Gillen, Medical Director at Pfizer Limited said: “Maraviroc is Pfizer’s pioneering contribution to the fight against HIV/AIDS. It represents cutting edge science and is a significant innovation in the treatment of HIV infection. We are proud of this achievement and will continue to work tirelessly to discover and develop other medicines for difficult to treat diseases.”
Professor Margaret Johnson, Clinical Director HIV/AIDS Services, Royal Free Hospital, London and Chair of the British HIV Association said: “The introduction of maraviroc is incredibly important for the HIV community. HIV is known to mutate aggressively and some patients become resistant to the treatments available. New drugs and particularly new classes of treatment are fundamental for continued good health.”
In large clinical trials, maraviroc demonstrated significant efficacy, both reducing the levels of virus circulating in the blood stream to undetectable levels and increasing the numbers of immune CD4 cells when added to the standard optimised treatment regimen. In addition, maraviroc demonstrated an acceptable tolerability profile; the most commonly reported adverse reactions were diarrhoea, nausea and headache.