Merck & Co’s new AIDS drug Isentress has moved a step closer to being available in Europe following a recommendation for approval from the regulatory authorities.

The Committee for Medicinal Products for Human Use (CHMP) of the European Medicines Agency has given a positive opinion to Isentress (raltegravir) in combination with other antiretroviral therapy for the treatment of HIV infection in treatment-experienced patients who have developed resistance to other AIDS drugs. Isentress is the first in a new class of antiretroviral agents, called integrase inhibitors, that will hit the market in Europe, assuming full approval from the EMEA.

The green light in Europe comes a month after the US Food and Drug Administrastion approved the drug based on a 24-week analysis of clinical trials in which Isentress, in combination with optimised background therapy in treatment-experienced patients, provided significant reductions in HIV RNA viral load and increases in CD4 cell counts. Analysts believe that Isentress could well achieve blockbuster status in a couple of years’ time.

The CHMP also recommended the use of Merck’s Ivemend (fosaprepitant) to help prevent chemotherapy-induced nausea.