America’s biopharmaceutical research companies are testing 88 medicines and vaccines to treat or prevent HIV/AIDS and related conditions, according to a report by the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA).
While HIV/AIDS is one of the most devastating diseases affecting people around the world, overall global growth of the disease has stabilized, the number of new infections has been steadily declining, and there are fewer AIDS-related deaths due to the availability of different therapies, such as antiretrovirals, and an enhanced focus on prevention.
Over the past three decades, more than 30 medicines have been approved to treat HIV/AIDS. While these medicines have helped to prolong the lives of HIV-infected patients, it is not enough. America’s biopharmaceutical researchers are focusing on improved treatment regimens, more targeted therapies, and intensifying their efforts to develop preventative vaccines. The International AIDS Vaccine Initiative estimates that a vaccine that is 50% effective and given to only 30% of the population could reduce new HIV infections by 24% over 15 years. Of the 88 medicines and vaccines in development, 49 are antivirals and 27 are vaccines. All of the medicines are either in clinical trials or awaiting review by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. They include:
• An antisense gene therapy that uses genetic material derived from HIV-1 itself to remove disease-causing aspects of the virus.
• A transdermal vaccine comprised of DNA plasmids that helps suppress virus replication and destroys HIV-infected cells.
• One treatment in a new class of medicines is intended to prevent the HIV virus from attaching to new cells and breaking through the cell membrane.
HIV/AIDS remains a formidable foe and worldwide epidemic. “The disease poses a complex problem, and we in the biopharmaceutical research industry know as well as anyone that it will require a complex solution,” said PhRMA president and CEO John J. Castellani. “We will find a cure eventually, but in the meantime we continue our efforts to develop new preventative approaches and treatments, so the millions of patients suffering today have a hope of a better tomorrow.”
The Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) represents the country’s leading pharmaceutical research and biotechnology companies devoted to inventing medicines that allow patients to live longer, healthier and more productive lives. PhRMA companies are leading the way in the search for new cures. PhRMA members alone invested an estimated $49.4 billion in 2010 in discovering and developing new medicines. Industry-wide research and investment reached a record $67.4 billion in 2010.