Times Staff and Wire Reports

FDA Approves Melanoma Drug: The drug helps patients with malignant melanoma who are at high risk of a relapse. Surgery is the standard therapy for the deadly skin cancer, but Madison, N.J.-based Schering-Plough Corp. discovered that half of a group of high-risk patients who took Intron A after surgery survived a year longer than did similar patients who had surgery alone. Half survived nine months longer without a relapse. The Food and Drug Administration warns that the drug causes significant side effects, ranging from fatigue and anorexia to liver failure. Intron A is a biologically engineered form of a human protein called interferon alpha. It is already sold as a treatment for other cancers and hepatitis B.

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