Raltegravir (also known as Isentress) is the generic name of HIV-1 integrase strand-transfer inhibitor with potent antiretroviral activity. While it does not cure the disease, it can help slow the spread of the virus throughout the body.
The medication works by blocking the formation of the virus. In a body wherein HIV is present, there is also an enzyme called HIV integrase. This enzyme is in part responsible for the replication of the virus; raltegravir and the brand name medications that it is a component of act on these enzymes. The drug works against HIV’s integrase protein, blocking its ability to integrate its genetic code into human cells. By interfering with the function of them, it in turn helps slow reproduction and the spread of the virus through the body.
Raltegravir, formerly known as MK-0518, is the first licensed integrase inhibitor. It was given marketing approval in the US in 2007 and in Europe in early 2008 for use by treatment-experienced patients. Raltegravir’s approval was based upon the results from the BENCHMRK I and II studies that showed it had a durable anti-HIV effect in patients with limited treatment options.
Available in tablet form, it is generally administered with other medications. When first starting a treatment plan, raltegravir may contribute to some side effects. Side effects that are generally mild include gastrointestinal distress, such as vomiting, stomach cramps, nausea and diarrhea. Some individuals also may experience fatigue, headache, and may acquire a pale complexion. These generally go away as the body adjusts to the medication, but they should be reported if they do not.
Many medical professionals will require regular consultations with a patient while he or she is taking raltegravir (the CAS number for its intermediate is 888504-27-6). As it interferes with the way HIV replicates and spreads through the body, it may effect other areas of the body over time. A doctor may request that the patient take regular blood tests and undergo routine lab work in order to see how his or her body is reacting to long-term administration of the drug.
Even though an individual may feel better, he or she should continue taking the medication for the best management of the virus and its symptoms. Although the administration of raltegravir can help alleviate some of the symptoms of HIV, it does not cure the disease. Those receiving treatment can still spread the disease and can be susceptible to some of the illnesses associated with it.