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Drug Company Says New Compound Effective Against Mutant HIV Strains With AM-AIDS Conference,

July 22, 1992

Drug Company Says New Compound Effective Against Mutant HIV Strains With AM-AIDS Conference, Bjt

DETROIT (AP) _ The Upjohn Co. said Wednesday it has developed a drug that is better than any on the U.S. market at slowing the growth of the AIDS-causing virus HIV. Tests on people will start in September.

Upjohn says the compound BHAP-E more effectively blocks HIV growth than AZT or ddI, the two anti-AIDS drugs available in the United States.

Its development was reported Friday to experts at the HIV Drug Resistance Meeting, a prelude to the International Conference on AIDS that is being held this week in the Netherlands.

BHAP-E was studied in collaboration with researchers at the UCLA Medical School and the University of Nebraska Medical Center.

Studies involving human cells in test tubes showed the compound was effective against a viral enzyme known as a reverse transcriptase, said Jerry R. Mitchell, president of Upjohn Laboratories.

″These laboratory studies on BHAP-E are important in that they show a potential use against drug-resistant strains of HIV,″ he said.

One problem in treating AIDS is that the virus can mutate to become drug- resistant. But BHAP-E appears effective in lab tests in battling the mutations, the company said.

Randy Pope, chief of the HIV-AIDS section of the Michigan Department of Public Health, said: ″From a public health perspective, we need more and more drugs to treat people who have been on the existing drugs for some time and have developed resistance to current therapies.″

Beginning in September, BHAP-E will be administered to healthy people to see if it causes any side effects.

Depending on the outcome of those tests, it may then be given to HIV- positive patients under an accelerated review by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

Neither Upjohn spokeswoman Nancy Lassen nor FDA spokeswoman Faye Peterson could say how long it might take for the compound to reach AIDS patients in general.

But under an accelerated FDA review, the Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. cleared ddI in six months, spokeswoman Liz Sigler said in New York. The usual clearance time is two to three years.

The San Francisco-based Mobilization Against AIDS, one of the nation’s oldest AIDS advocacy groups, said news of the Upjohn development was encouraging. But even with expedited FDA approval, the drug will reach the market too late for some AIDS sufferers, the group said.

According to the federal Centers for Disease Control, as of June 30, 230,179 people in the United States had been diagnosed with AIDS, including 152,153 who had died.

BHAP-E is in the same family as another AIDS-treating compound that Upjohn is testing on AIDS sufferers.

After Wednesday’s announcement, Upjohn’s stock closed up $1.87 1/2 at $34.25 a share on the New York Stock Exchange.

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