Scottish regulators have cleared the way for doctors to prescribe Tibotec’s Intelence for patients with HIV on the National Health Service in Scotland, after deeming it a cost-effective use of resources.

Intelence (etravirine) is a next generation non-nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitor and, according to the firm - a division of Johnson & Johnson group Janssen Cilag – the first to show efficacy in patients resistant to first-generation NNRTI therapies.

The drug is also the first new NNRTI to be launched in 10 years following a European green light in August 2008 for use in combination with a boosted protease inhibitor and other antiretroviral medicines.

The decision to clear Intelence for use on the NHS in Scotland was based on two clinical trials showing that significantly more patients receiving the drug had an undetectable viral load and a greater CD4 cell count than those taking a placebo at 24 weeks. Furthermore, studies suggest a favourable safety profile, with a rash being the most common adverse effect.

According to Dr Gordon Scott, lead clinician at the Department of Genitourinary Medicine, NHS Lothian, the SMC’s approval is “excellent” news for HIV patients in Scotland, as Intelence is “a powerful drug with a low rate of side-effects that offers considerable hope to patients whose existing HIV treatment is failing”.