FDA advisors back Merck HIV drug

FDA unanimously supports experimental HIV drug from Merck; agency's final decision to come later.

By Aaron Smith, CNNMoney.com staff writer

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- FDA advisors voted unanimously in support of an experimental HIV drug from Merck, according to the company and the government agency.

The advisors' vote suggests that the Merck (down $0.26 to $49.40, Charts, Fortune 500) drug Isentress will be approved as a treatment for patients suffering from AIDS, but it is a non-binding vote that is not a final decision. The Food and Drug Administration will take the vote into consideration when it makes its final decision at a later date.

A positive vote from the FDA was expected, because the advisors released documents on Aug. 31 that seemed to lean towards approval.

Joe Tooley of A.G. Edwards estimates that sales for Isentress, also known as raltegravir, will reach $750 million in annual sales by 2011.

Merck & Co., Inc., based in Whitehouse Station, Inc., N.J. is the third-largest U.S. drug company in terms of annual sales, behind Johnson & Johnson (down $0.33 to $61.65, Charts, Fortune 500) and Pfizer, Inc. (down $0.37 to $24.71, Charts, Fortune 500)

On Aug. 6, the FDA approved Selzentry, also known as maraviroc, an AIDS drug from Pfizer. Top of page