88 drugs, vaccines filling HIV/AIDS pipeline

More than 30 medicines have been approved to treat HIV/AIDS since the disease emerged in the early 1980s. The outlook for many patients with the disease has improved considerably in that time. Without intervention, the average AIDS patient survives 9 to 11 years, but treatment with antiretroviral drugs can extend that to more than 20 years. However, industry group PhRMA notes that more effective medicines are still needed to prevent the spread of the disease.

Of the 88 drugs in the HIV/AIDS pipeline (which include therapies in clinical testing or awaiting FDA approval), 49 are antivirals and 27 are vaccines, the group notes. Approaches include using genetic material taken from the virus itself to neutralize HIV, the use of transdermal vaccines to halt virus replication, and a treatment to prevent HIV from attaching to and infecting healthy cells. A Caltech team just revealed it was able to completely prevent infection in mice via the injection of an antibody gene.

"The disease poses a complex problem, and we in the biopharmaceutical research industry know as well as anyone that it will require a complex solution," said PhRMA President and CEO John Castellani. "We will find a cure eventually, but in the meantime, we continue our efforts to develop new preventative approaches and treatments, so the millions of patients suffering today have a hope of a better tomorrow."

- here's the release from PhRMA

Special Report: Successes, failures mark 30 years of HIV/AIDS research