Roche discontinue ddC and Fortovase

The following letter was circulated relating to the withdrawal of ddC (Hivid) and Saquinavir SGC (Fortovase):

Dear treatment advocate/treatment provider

As part of its regular review of products in its pharmaceutical portfolio, Roche has initiated discussions with worldwide regulatory authorities on plans to discontinue two of its HIV drugs, ddC (zalcitabine, Hivid) and saquinavir, soft capsule formulation (Fortovase), in the near future.

The decision has been made because of the availability of newer drugs that better meet physicians’ and patients’ needs and because they are excluded from the newest HIV treatment guidelines. ddC use continues to decline due to the availability of newer NRTIs with enhanced safety and efficacy. The use of unboosted Fortovase has decreased because of its high pill count of 18 capsules a day and three-times daily dosing. Boosted Invirase (saquinavir hard capsule formulation), on the other hand, has been shown to be better tolerated than boosted Fortovase and is today the preferred formulation of saquinavir. In fact, current HIV guidelines recommend to use boosted Invirase in combination with antiretroviral regimens. Finally, the introduction of the Invirase 500mg tablet will further reduce the use of Fortovase since the daily saquinavir pill count will be significantly reduced to only two Invirase 500mg pills twice daily*, making the treatment regimen more convenient for patients.

Roche will keep physicians and patient groups informed of decisions resulting from our discussions with health authorities. Any planned discontinuation will be undertaken in such a manner to allow physicians and patients adequate time to consider and transition to alternative treatment options.

Yours sincerely,

F-Hoffmann -La Roche LTD, 11 March 2005

Source: Roche communication

Links to other websites are current at date of posting but not maintained.