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Pfizer unveils anti-AIDS drug at medical conference

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CHICAGO HIV patients may have the chance to stay healthy for a longer period of time with the development of a new anti-AIDS drug, Pfizer announced Tuesday.

At an annual medical conference in Chicago, Pfizer presented its new drug, called Selzentry, which was claimed as the latest oral HIV medicines to be placed on the market in more than 10 years. The announcement comes just one month after the FDA’s approval of the drug.

According to the company’s Web site, Pfizer conducted a 48-week trial and found that patients receiving the drug combined with traditional medication recorded almost undetectable levels of HIV virus. The drug helps prevent the virus from entering the body’s T-cells, rather than fighting the virus once it has already infected the cells.

Selzentry, which is now available for purchase in the U.S., may eventually be available to any person that needs it. Pfizer said in a statement that it is working with private and public insurance companies to secure coverage and compensation, and has made the medication a part of their patient-assistance program. The company is also seeking permission for worldwide sales.

“The safety and durability of response seen with Selzentry ... in our study is reassuring. This drug is an important new weapon for clinicians who treat HIV,” said Jacob Lalezari, director of Quest Clinical Research, at the University of California.

The drug does not, however, cure HIV infection or prevent it from being passed to another person, the company warned. The side effects are similar to those experienced with other anti-AIDS drugs, including nausea, fatigue, headaches and diarrhea. 

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