Close to victory

Published: Wednesday 31 January 1996

THE battle against the dreaded AlDs disease may yet be won. The Food and Drug Administration in the us recently approved a new class of drugs which inhibits the ability of the HIV virus to cause the disease. Manufactured by Hoffman-La Roche Inc of Nutley in New Jersey, the drug Sacluinavir, belongs to the protease inhibitor group. Protease is an important enzyme which aids the reproduction of the HIV virus. The new drug whose trade name is Invirase prevents the action of the enzyme and thus suppresses the disease. A day's dose of Invirase will cost US $15 89 and includes 600 gm capsules to be taken thrice a day.

Hoffman-La Roche promise to have the drug on the pharmacy shelves in the shortest possible time and have also announced a financial assistance programme for those who are unable to afford the drug. The drug has minimal side effects, say its manufacturers.

It has also shown the ability to stop the crucial immune system cells, called CD-4 from declining in number and also increase its count in some patients. Further, it appears to reduce the total amount of virus present in a patient's body.

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