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FDA okays AIDS drug

Compiled from Times wires

© St. Petersburg Times, published March 14, 2003


WASHINGTON -- Patients who are running out of medicines to fight the AIDS virus won a new option Thursday as the government approved a dramatically different anti-HIV drug.

Fuzeon is the first in a new class of medications, called fusion inhibitors, that fight AIDS in a completely new way. As many as 100,000 U.S. patients could benefit, and experts predict a flurry of new research will produce more drugs like it.

Manufacturers said the drug, expected to cost about $20,000 per year, should be available by month's end, though only to a limited number of people at first.

Fuzeon works by preventing the AIDS virus from invading the white blood cells that are the primary targets of HIV. By contrast, today's AIDS drugs all work after the virus has invaded those cells, by blocking either of two substances that HIV uses to reproduce and spread.

Also, the FDA approved a low-dose version of the combination hormone used by many women to treat symptoms of menopause.

The agency approved a Prempro tablet containing 0.45 milligram of estrogen and 1.5 milligrams of progesterone.

That combination of hormones is a common treatment for hot flashes, night sweats and other symptoms, but many women discontinued their use after a research panel reported last fall that women using the drugs are at higher risk of cancer and heart disease than had originally been thought.

Two convicted of murder in 1969 York race riots

YORK, Pa. -- Two black men were convicted Thursday of murdering a white rookie police officer during race riots that rocked the city in 1969.

It was the second murder trial stemming from the violence that tore apart this small central Pennsylvania city more than three decades ago.

Stephen Freeland and Leon Wright were found guilty of second-degree murder and face a maximum sentence of 10 to 20 years in prison in the slaying of patrol officer Henry Schaad. Sentencing was set for April 21.

Last year, two white men were convicted and the city's former mayor was acquitted in the slaying of a young black woman during the riots.

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