State Relaxes Qualifying for AIDS Drug

United Press International

State Department of Health Services Director Kenneth Kizer said Monday that the department is relaxing income requirements to enable more AIDS patients to qualify for assistance in obtaining the anti-AIDS drug AZT.

The action, Kizer said, is aimed at helping counties distribute $7.6 million in federal money to make the expensive drug available to poor people.

The department previously limited such assistance for individuals who, based on a formula using the 1987 federal poverty level, had an annual income of about $11,000 a year.

The new guidelines open the way to drug assistance for people with incomes of about $22,000 a year.

The drug will be administered through county hospitals, said department spokeswoman Kassy Edgington. People seeking the drug must have it prescribed by a doctor and must provide copies of their 1987 federal income tax return. People who already can obtain AZT through Medi-Cal or their own health insurance or any other program are ineligible for the assistance.

The drug AZT typically costs patients $8,000 to $10,000 a year.

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