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Isentress (raltegravir) - New First-In-Class HIV Medication

On Friday October 12th 2007 the FDA granted a new drug, Isentress (raltegravir), accelerated approval for the treatment of HIV infection. Isentress (raltegravir) belongs to the class of HIV medications known as Integrase Inhibitors and it is the first drug in it's class to hit the market. Specifically, when used in combination with other anti-HIV medications, Isentress (raltegravir) was found to both reduce HIV viral load and increase CD4 count. CD4 cells, also known as T-cells, are a type of blood cell that helps to fight off infections.

Isentress (raltegravir) is indicated for use in adult HIV patients, aged 16 years and above who have a documented resistance to multiple, or at least one, in any of the other classes of anti-HIV medications. The drug has not been tested in pregnant women but those who do get pregnant while on HIV medications are encouraged to register with the Antiretroviral Pregnancy Registry.

Isentress (raltegravir) is supplied in 400mg tablets and dosing is one tablet twice a day with or without food. As with other HIV medications, users should NOT stop taking this medication abruptly or for any length of time unless instructed to do so by their physician. Doing so may cause one's viral load (the amount of the HIV virus in the blood) to increase or the virus may become resistant to the drug and thus make it more difficult to treat.

The most common side effects that were reported with use of Isentress (raltegravir) were diarrhea, nausea, and headache. The drug can also increase levels of a certain muscle enzyme known as creatine kinase and this can result in users developing certain muscle problems.

Isentress (raltegravir) is manufactured and distributed by Merck & Co., Inc. If you need more information about the drug or to contact them regarding it you may go www.ISENTRESS.com or call 1-800-622-4477.

Photo courtesy of Robert Miller.
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