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Kaletra-Isentress therapy for HIV patients as effective as standard treatments, drug makers say

BY Alaric DeArment

VIENNA A combination therapy comprising of drugs made by Abbott and Merck is as effective as standard therapy regimens in reducing viral load levels to undetectable levels in HIV patients, according to results of a trial presented at the 18th annual International AIDS Conference in Vienna.

Abbott presented results of its “PROGRESS” study, showing that so-called treatment-naive patients who had taken Abbott’s Kaletra (lopinavir and ritonavir) and Merck’s Isentress (raltegravir) for 48 weeks achieved undetectable viral loads, defined as 40 copies of the virus per milliliter of blood; results were similar to those of patients taking the standard therapy, a combination of Kaletra and Gilead Sciences’ Truvada (tenofovir and emtricitabine).

“The 48-week PROGRESS study results, while not definitive, suggest that the nucleoside-sparing HIV regimen of Kaletra and Isentress may be an alternative treatment option for patients new to HIV therapy, when compared to a standard HIV regimen,” presenting study author and professor of medicine at France’s University Hospital Center Jacques Reynes said. “This further advances our research into new HIV treatment classes and explores the use of alternative drug combinations for patients.”

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FDA advisory committee shoots down Vivus’ Qnexa

BY Alaric DeArment

MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif. The possibility of a new drug for treating obesity suffered a setback Thursday as a Food and Drug Administration advisory committee voted against recommending its approval.

The FDA Endocrinologic and Metabolic Drugs Advisory Committee voted 10 to 6 against recommending approval for Vivus’ drug Qnexa (phentermine and topiramate), citing safety concerns such as the possibility of psychiatric problems and birth defects.

“We appreciate the advisory committee’s recognition of obesity as a significant health crisis and the challenges associated with the treatment of this disease,” Vivus CEO Leland Wilson said. “We are disappointed with the advisory committee’s vote.”

The company said it would attempt to address the committee’s concerns. An advisory committee vote is a recommendation, and while the FDA will take it into account when deciding whether to approve a drug, it is not bound to follow it.

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Post-it launches Shopping Genius widget

BY Allison Cerra

LONDON 3M has developed a bargain-shopping widget with the help of its Post-it brand.

Inspired by usage of the classic Post-it note as a shopping list, 3M has developed an evolution of the shopping list for the digital age called Post-it Shopping Genius. How it works: Post-it Shopping Genius sits on your computer desktop, keeping an eye on the price changes for you, locating the cheapest price, and letting you know when it changes. The customizable application enables you to choose from thousands of electricals, durables and other consumer goods, and track up to five at a time.

The application — which can be directly downloaded from http://bit.ly/Post-itGenius and is available on iGoogle, Mac OS X desktop and Windows 7 / Vista desktops — displays up-to-date prices on many thousands of products, which are searchable within the tool.

In related news, 3M announced that it is offering a monthly monetary prize of 1,000 GBP ($1,542) or the value of a user’s shopping list if less as an incentive to those who refer the Shopping Genius application to a friend.

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