Not-for-Profit Group To Announce Deal With GSK Allowing Testing of AIDS Drugs as Microbicides
The International Partnership for Microbicides, a not-for-profit group based in Silver Spring, Md., is expected to announce an agreement with the pharmaceutical company GlaxoSmithKline to test several of the company's antiretroviral drugs in a topical form as microbicides, the Wall Street Journal reports. GSK -- which has several "top-selling" antiretroviral drugs and is developing experimental products called CCR5 blockers, or viral entry inhibitors -- has not said how many or which drugs will be licensed to IPM for testing, according to the Journal. Under terms of the deal, GSK will select and provide compounds for testing at St. George's Medical School in London, the Journal reports (Chase, Wall Street Journal, 9/24). Microbicides include a range of products such as gels, films, sponges and other products that could help prevent the sexual transmission of HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases. Although HIV is transmitted primarily through heterosexual intercourse in much of Africa and Asia, no female-controlled HIV prevention method currently is widely available. An effective microbicide would kill HIV in semen, block the virus from attaching to a target cell or prevent HIV from multiplying if the virus enters a target cell (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 7/14). Computer modeling studies by the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine conclude that an effective microbicide could prevent 2.5 million HIV infections in three years if used by 20% of women in 73 developing countries, the Journal reports.
Zeda Rosenberg, chief executive of IPM, said that the agreement with GSK "is the first step in a long process of identifying products that might make good microbicides." Rosenberg said that IPM already has two microbicide products in "pivotal" efficacy trials and that three more are expected to reach that stage late this year or in early 2005. Mark Mitchnick, director of research at IPM, said that the deal with GSK is "opening new prophylactic windows for us." Richard Klausner -- executive director of global health at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which has pledged $60 million to IPM -- lauded the agreement, saying that the deal is "precisely the kind of collabortion needed" to enhance HIV/AIDS prevention methods, the Journal reports. GSK could not be reached for comment, according to the Journal (Wall Street Journal, 9/24).