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Source: Poster presentations at the 40th Interscience Conference on Antimicrobials and Chemotherapy (ICAAC) and interviews with Jocelyne Piret, PhD, and Robert P. Rapp, PharmD, FCCP; The Pharmacy Practice News, December 2000.
A group of canadian researchers have shown that sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS), a common ingredient in shampoo and toothpaste, is a potent microbicide against HIV and herpes viruses. The mechanism of action appears to be the prevention of the virus’s attachment and entry to target cells by extracting proteins from the envelope of the virus. Whether SLS would prevent infection in vivo has not been studied but is certainly of interest.
Based upon their results, they have developed a topical gel formulation of SLS for intravaginal use and are performing preclinical trials. In animal studies, they have shown that animals pretreated with the gel formulation survived infection and showed no signs of toxicity.
Comment by Thomas g. Schleis, MS, RPh
With the cost of new pharmaceuticals for treatment of HIV continuing to escalate, it is interesting to see how a simple, inexpensive substance such as SLS (essentially soap) can provide a potential advance in preventing HIV infection. While condoms provide the best barrier to HIV transmission between sexual partners, they are not 100% effective and the potential of SLS lessening the likelihood of infection is certainly worth pursuing.
Pharmaceutical manufacturers are currently working on 137 new infectious disease medicines. This is in addition to the 103 medicines in development for AIDS and AIDS-related conditions. Manufacturers have invested an estimated $3.6 billion in infectious diseases research in 2000 and this dollar value is sure to increase in 2001.1
When considering the high cost of treatment of HIV, the need for continued emphasis on prevention cannot be over-emphasized. As more and more dollars are poured into pharmaceutical development, the net result will be more expensive medications on the market. This is occuring at a time when consumers are being asked to pay a higher percentage of pharmaceutical costs by their medical insurance providers.
1. The Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America.