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French Report of AIDS Drug Called Premature, Irresponsible

October 30, 1985|Associated Press

BETHESDA, Md. — Leading researchers are criticizing as irresponsible and premature the announcement by a French medical team that it has successfully battled the AIDS virus with an anti-rejection drug commonly used in organ transplants.

"There's not a scientist I know who'd give something for one week to six patients and make an announcement in the press," said Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, a top AIDS researcher at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda.

French researchers said Tuesday that cyclosporine, a drug used to prevent rejection of transplanted organs, can slow the growth of the AIDS virus and allow the body's crippled immune system to rebuild itself. (Story, Page 21.)

"I think it's absolutely irresponsible what they have done in calling a press conference eight days after treating their first patient with this drug," Dr. Martin Hirsch of Massachusetts General Hospital told the New York Times. "There is no way you can evaluate any drug in such a short period of time and with such a small number of patients."

Fauci expressed concern that the French announcement will give false hope to sufferers from AIDS (acquired immune deficiency syndrome).

"I'm concerned that individuals might put themselves into great danger by using an agent that has potential deleterious effects," he said on NBC-TV's "Today" show this morning.

But one of the French researchers, Dr. Alain Venet, also on the program, said, "If it might help, it would be greatly beneficial. If not, it wouldn't be the first product that has been tried without success in AIDS."

Dr. Samuel Broder of the National Cancer Institute in Bethesda said, "I think on the basis of the evidence presented thus far in scientific journals, no patient need feel that he is being deprived of a curative therapy by not having access to cyclosporine at the present time."

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