Medicine: An Uproar over AIDS Drugs

Protesters cite high cost and federal foot dragging

Racing against the clock, scientists develop a drug that is at least partly effective against AIDS, and the Food and Drug Administration okays it in record time. Instead of applause, the approval of Retrovir (formerly known as AZT) has provoked outrage in some quarters. On Wall Street last week, 300 demonstrators led by gay activists chanted slogans, blocked morning traffic and hanged an effigy of FDA Commissioner Frank Young. Their complaints: Retrovir's manufacturer, Burroughs Wellcome, is gouging AIDS victims by charging around $8,000 for a year's worth of the capsules. Meanwhile, the protesters claimed, the FDA is dragging its feet on...

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