Suspicious Minds

The FDA has approved a drug specifically for black Americans. But that doesn't mean they'll buy it

It took nearly eight years for the new heart drug BiDil to win approval from the Food and Drug Administration--and it won that approval only after its maker, a small company called NitroMed, repositioned it as a treatment earmarked for African Americans. But if NitroMed thought getting BiDil past the FDA was hard, wait until it tries marketing the drug to its target group. Even during its clinical trials, BiDil ran into resistance. Says Dr. Theodore Addai of Nashville's Meharry Medical College, who had to enlist black patients for a 2001 trial: "We had to try to persuade them that this...