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New study shows patients more willing to consider self-injectable HIV therapy than many physicians anticipate

Initial results from the OpenMind study, the largest behavioural study to look at both patients' and physicians' perceptions of HIV care in treatment-experienced patients, were revealed today at EACS. The study's findings are anticipated to help physicians implement improved care to HIV patients and help pave the way for better acceptance and integration of other new innovative drugs such as monoclonal antibodies that are increasingly being developed for the management of HIV and other diseases.

The study was conceived to look at attitudes to FUZEON (enfuvirtide), the first approved HIV fusion inhibitor, and an important option for treatment-experienced patients who face HIV resistance. FUZEON presents unique challenges because it is the first self-injectable antiretroviral whereas all other treatments are oral.

Highlights from today's data show that:

  • Patients are more willing to consider and use self-injectable therapy than many physicians anticipate
  • Three-quarters (76%) of patients would consider using a self-injectable HIV therapy if their physician recommended it
  • Worryingly, only one quarter (28%) of patients who are potentially eligible for FUZEON had actually discussed this injectable option with their physicians
  • Only 10% of eligible patients were currently prescribed FUZEON, despite the fact that it is recommended in key international HIV treatment guidelines

This study also identifies some of the main reasons why many physicians may be reluctant to prescribe a treatment of proven efficacy and safety. The reasons include; the physicians' perception that patients would be reluctant to use a self-injectable therapy, the physicians' opinion that the patient would not be able to incorporate FUZEON into their lifestyle and the potential misconception that FUZEON is not appropriately recommended in guidelines.

"Physicians' best intentions in trying to match treatments to patients may actua lly be limiting the use of FUZEON in those patients who are most likely to benefit," said Rob Horne, Professor of Psychology at the University of Brighton and OpenMind study author.

"These new insights from the OpenMind study will enable us to develop tools to facilitate more informed decisions by both patient and physician."

The study also shows that physicians' own experiences and attitudes towards self-injection are a significant motivator for its use. Physicians with considerable FUZEON experience were significantly more likely to justify using self-injectable therapy in terms of time and resources and were less likely to doubt its efficacy relative to oral therapies, when compared to physicians less experienced with this type of treatment.

Dr Mike Youle, Director of HIV Clinical Research, Royal Free Hospital, London and co-author of the OpenMind study stated, "With the increasing choice of injectable biotech drugs including monoclonal antibodies, these findings potentially have far reaching implications across a whole range of therapeutic areas. We look forward to presenting the final results and exploring possible interventions at major congresses next year."



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