HIV–Aids drug candidate dolutegravir outperformed Atripla tablets in Phase III

GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) has announced good results for its HIV–Aids drug candidate dolutegravir, which has apparently outperformed Atripla (emtricitabine, tenofovir, efavirenz) tablets in Phase III.

The trial involved 833 patients with HIV, but who had not been previously treated: 414 took dolutegravir – in combination with abacavir and lamivudine – while 419 took Atripla tablets.

The researchers measured how many were ‘virologically suppressed’ – their blood contained fewer than 50 viruses/ml – after 48 weeks. They found that 88% of patients that took dolutegravir were virologically suppressed, compared with 81% in the Atripla group. The difference in performance was the result of side effects: more of the patients taking Atripla pills stopped taking their treatment.

Dolutegravir is an integrase inhibitor developed by Shionogi VIIV Healthcare, a joint venture between Japanese pharma company Shionogi and VIIV Healthcare – itself a joint venture established in 2009 by Pfizer and GSK to look specifically at HIV.

Integrase inhibitors block HIV replication by preventing the integration of viral DNA into the DNA of human immune cells. Because of their mode of action, unlike most HIV–Aids drugs, they don’t require a ‘booster’ drug to work properly.