fizer’s HIV drug Selzentry (maraviroc) has been backed by a US Food and Drug Administration panel recommending broader use of the currently limited access drug.

The panel voted 10 to 4 to recommend approval for use in treatment naive patients as part of a combination therapy. This was mainly based on an efficacy study showing reduced HIV levels in blood and safety data that showed patients experienced fewer side effects when taking Selzentry, also known as Celsentri.

The drug, which works by blocking viral entry into cells via the CCR5 co-receptor, was first approved for use by the FDA in 2008, but was limited to patients who had already tried other medications.

Should the recommendation for approval be followed through by the FDA this would mean increased treatment options for HIV patients.

However, some members of the advisory panel are concerned that patients who were unresponsive to Selzentry as a first-line therapy would be more likely to develop resistance to other HIV medications, said Tracy Swan, the panel’s consumer representative. If used early in the treatment programme it might reduce treatment options in the future, she added.

In 2007, about 33 million people around the world had HIV.