For Newport Pharmaceuticals, the Food and Drug Administration's refusal Friday to approve Isoprinosine for use as an AIDS treatment is the latest in a string of rejections and controversies that date back 16 years.
Since it set up shop in 1968 and began testing and producing Isoprinosine, the Newport Beach company has promoted it first as a memory enhancer and then as a potential cure for a variety of diseases including influenza, a rare type of encephalitis, genital herpes and, now, as a treatment of pre-AIDS conditions.
At one time, the drug was even suggested as a potential cure for the common cold, and company executives projected a market for the drug in the hundreds of millions of dollars.
The fortunes of Newport Pharmaceuticals are tied exclusively to Isoprinosine, and the company has paid dearly for putting all its eggs in one basket. Until last year, the company had posted losses for each of its 18 years in business. For its fiscal year ended April 30, 1985, however, the company reported net income of $647,000, largely because of internal cost-cutting measures.