A new drug which has been described as a breakthrough in the treatment of people with HIV is to be manufactured at Merck, Sharpe and Dohme’s plant in Ballydine near Carrick-on-Suir.

Isentress will be produced for the worldwide market at Merck (MSD) and has been described as the first in a new class of HIV treatments known as intergrase inhibitors.

Experts consider the drug as the “first breakthrough in new treatments to target the virus in a decade,” providing fresh hope for the 4,419 people in Ireland currently living with HIV.

These inhibitors target a protein called integrase, which HIV needs to enter human and cells and make copies of itself.

“It is a tremendous achievement for the plant to have been involved in the clinical and launch stages of Isentress,” said MSD Plant Manager Dan Hoey.

“This therapy will make a significant difference to millions of people world-wide and we are proud to be associated with this new drug.”

Doctor Colm Bergin, a conulstant in infectious diseases at Saint James’s Hopsital, Dublin, also welcomed the news.

“Isentress will provide a new treatment to patients who are no longer being controlled by current therapies and therefore need new options,” he said.

“It will play an important role as an addition to the armamentarium of treatments active against HIV infection.”

The manufacturing of Isentress at Ballydine is part of MSD’s €300million expansion plan for Ireland, which includes a new research and development facility in Tipperary and a vaccines production facility in Carlow.