A synthetic form of the active ingredient in marijuana has wonFDA approval for its use against the wasting effect associatedwith AIDS.

The drug, dronabinol, helps overcome nausea and stimulate theappetite of AIDS patients, who often suffer severe weight loss.

The drug is marketed by Unimed Inc. of Buffalo Grove andRoxane Laboratories Inc. of Columbus, Ohio, under the tradename Marinol.

Dronabinol is a synthetic form of delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol(THC), the main active ingredient in marijuana. Previously, theFDA had limited the use of dronabinol to cancer patientsfighting nausea from chemotherapy.

Harry Hollander, an AIDS physician at the University ofCalifornia, San Francisco, warned that the drug may have sideeffects such as drowsiness and muddled thinking, and shouldnot be given to all patients.

However, Robert T. Schooley, chairman of the infectious diseaseprogram at the University of Colorado Health Services Center inDenver, said, "I'm really happy with it, wasting being one of themain problems associated with AIDS." Schooley said theapproval marks a new openness on the part of the FDA inconsidering AIDS treatments.

-- Nancy Garcia Associate Editor

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