Once Daily Isentress for HIV Now in Pharmacies

Roni Shye
Roni Shye, PharmD BCGP BCACP, is a licensed pharmacist in the states of Florida, Ohio, and Pennsylvania.
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According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), approximately 36.7 million people around the world are living with HIV. As of June 2016, new data suggests that 17 million people living with HIV are currently receiving medication to treat it.

HIV medication, also known as antiretroviral treatment (ART), has made some key advancements in recent years. Some of these advancements include the use of less of pills and less unwanted side effects. Recently, popular HIV medication Isentress (raltegravir) experienced some advancements, with a new once-daily strength currently available in pharmacies.

What is Isentress indicated for?

Isentress is indicated for the treatment of HIV-1 infections in adults and pediatric patients weighing at least 40 kg or 88 lbs.

New high-dose Isentress is currently on the market as a film-coated tablet in the strength of 600 mg. It is to be taken as two tablets (1200 mg total) by mouth, once daily, with or without food. This new strength is similar to other Isentress products. However, unlike the others, high-dose Isentress can be taken once-daily, while other doses must be taken twice-daily. This advancement makes it easier for patients to take their medication and increases adherence.

Remember, all Isentress products, including high-dose Isentress, are to be taken in combination with other antiretroviral medications.

Can different Isentress formulations be substituted for one another?

No. Isentress is available in many forms including film tablets, chewable tablets, and oral suspension. However, they may not be interchanged with one another due to the way they move throughout the body and are absorbed.

What are the most common side effects of Isentress?

Common side effects include diarrhea, stomach pain, vomiting and a decreased appetite. Be sure to speak with your doctor if you experience these side effects for a prolonged period of time.

How can I save on Isentress?

Unfortunately, the new high dose Isentress will not offer much savings from the other Isentress products. However, the Manufacturer, Merck, offers a co-pay card that can save privately insured patients as much as $6,800.

Merck also offers a patient assistance program to help eligible patients save on Isentress. For more information, call the Support Program at 1-800-850-3430 or visit their website here.

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