The Food and Drug Administration has given marketing approvalto the drug foscarnet for the treatment of AIDS patients withcytomegalovirus (CMV) retinitis, which can lead to blindnessin victims with impaired immune systems.

Foscarnet on Sept. 27 became the second drug approved for usein AIDS patients with CMV retinitis and the eighth drugapproved for treatment of an AIDS-related condition. ManyAIDS patients cannot tolerate ganciclovir, which was approvedin 1989 for treatment of CMV retinitis.

Foscarnet, an intravenous drug, is manufactured by AstraPharmaceutical Products Inc. of Westborough, Mass., asubsidiary of AB Astra of Sweden. It will be distributed underthe trade name Foscavir.

"Foscarnet, like ganciclovir, is not a cure for CMV retinitis,but can significantly delay the progression of the disease,"according to the FDA. The FDA also warned of "serious toxicityproblems" associated with foscarnet, including nephrotoxicity(kidney damage), abnormal electrolyte levels in the blood, andseizures.

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