WASHINGTON — American scientists Wednesday criticized as premature the announcement by three French physicians that they have dramatically slowed the development of AIDS in two patients by treating them with a drug that prevents transplants from being rejected.
"There's not a scientist I know who'd give something for one week to six patients and make an announcement in the press," Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases in Bethesda, Md., told the Associated Press. "If you want to talk about ethics, you want to make sure something works before you announce it."
Researchers from San Francisco to Boston who are studying the acquired immune deficiency syndrome made similar comments.
At the same time, however, several leading authorities suggested that there may be a valid scientific reason for trying the drug the French doctors used--cyclosporine--on AIDS patients, although at first glance it may sound paradoxical that such a drug might be effective.
The French doctors, Phillippe Even, Jean-Marie Andrieu and Alain Venet, told a Paris news conference Tuesday that two of six AIDS patients in their study had shown "dramatic" improvement after only one week on the drug cyclosporine. They said they immediately made public the results of their study, conducted at Paris' Laennec Hospital, for "ethical" reasons.