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Which drug works best?

Although the drug zidovudine is an effective mainstay against HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, scientists know that its efficacy declines over time, perhaps because HIV-infected cells develop resistance to this drug. A new study suggests that HIV-infected people who have taken zidovudine for at least four months are better off switching to another antiviral agent called didanosine, or DDI.

Last October, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved didanosine for people with advanced HIV infection who had failed zidovudine therapy, in some cases because they developed severe side effects after taking zidovudine. However, the new study suggests HIV-infected people shouldn't wait for such ill effects before considering didanosine therapy.

James O. Kahn of San Francisco General Hospital and his colleagues report their findings in the Aug. 27 NEW ENGLAND JOURNAL OF MEDICINE.

The researchers studied 913 people with AIDS, a milder ailment called AIDS-related complex, or an asymptomatic HIV infection. All participants had been taking zidovudine for at least 16 weeks and had not experienced severe side effects. At the study's start, the researchers randomly assigned each patient to a group that stayed on zidovudine or to one of two groups receiving either 500 or 750 milligrams of didanosine per day.

After monitoring the volunteers for an average of 14 months, Kahn and his coworkers discovered that those receiving the lower dose of didanosine fared much better than those in the other groups. The low-dose didanosine group had fewer bouts with opportunistic infections and were less likely to die during the study period, the team reports.
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Title Annotation:didanosine may prove more effective than zidovudine for HIV-virus treatment
Publication:Science News
Article Type:Brief Article
Date:Aug 29, 1992
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