Medicine: Help on The Way

An AIDS drug is approved

The Food and Drug Administration announced last October that it would allow promising but unproven treatments for AIDS to move onto the market more swiftly than other new drugs. Last week the agency made good on that promise. It said it would approve an aerosol drug, pentamidine, for treatment of a deadly form of pneumonia that is a leading killer of AIDS patients.

The move is a major departure from the FDA's traditional practice of requiring rigorous tests, which can take up to seven years, to establish a drug's safety and effectiveness before granting approval. Black-market versions of the aerosol pentamidine...

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