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AZT Seen Extending AIDS Patients’ Life Spans Even In Long-Term Treatment

May 14, 1988

WASHINGTON (AP) _ The manufacturer of AZT, the only drug approved for treatment of AIDS, reported Friday that the drug continues to add to the life spans of patients who have used it for nearly two years, according to a published report.

Officials of Burroughs Wellcome Co. told an advisory committee of the Food and Drug Administration that beneficial effects of azidothymidine, known as AZT or now as zidovudine, continue even in long-term treatment without an increase in negative side effects, The Washington Post reported Saturday.

While no study has documented how much time the drug adds to the life of an AIDS patient, an unidentified FDA official said the treatment ″adds at least six months,″ the newspaper said.

The official said not all AIDS patients received such a benefit from the treatment and that serious side effects prevent half of all AIDS patients from continuing to use the drug.

Company officials said occurrences of side effects did not increase in patients treated as long as 21 months.

One study of 229 people with AIDS and severe AIDS-related complex found that 58 percent of those who received long-term treatment with the drug were alive after 21 months, while 50 percent of those who never received the treatment were dead after nine months, the company said.

Another study of 4,800 people with AIDS and AIDS-related complex who received the drug between October 1986 and September 1987 found that 73 percent were alive 11 months after starting treatment.

″This is significantly better than what might be expected for such patients had they not been treated,″ said Dr. David Berry, vice president of research at Burroughs Wellcome.

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