Researchers and activists have given their support to the continued use of the AIDS drug nevirapine in the face of accusations this week that a key clinical trial of the drug was flawed. Academics are worried that the backlash against what has been described as "the most successful therapy in the entire AIDS epidemic" will lead to rising rates of transmission of the disease.
The allegations surround a US-funded trial showing that nevirapine greatly reduced the rate of mother-to-child transmission of HIV, as a result of which the drug began to be used worldwide.
Concerns about record-keeping in the trial led to an investigation in early 2003, which concluded the drug was still safe and effective. But recent reports in the Associated Press questioning the conduct of the trial have prompted another investigation, the results of which are due next March.
In response to the reports, several scientists have spoken out to say that despite possible 'data discrepancies', the conclusions are still valid. They add that other trials — as well as practical experience — have confirmed that nevirapine is effective.
Nature reference: vol 432 (2004), page 935