HEALTH

Times Staff and Wire Reports

FDA Panel OKs Drug for Blindness in Some AIDS Patients: A capsule implanted in the eyes of patients is more than two times better than existing therapy, government scientists agreed. A study reaching that conclusion prompted an advisory panel to the Food and Drug Administration to urge, by a 6-1 vote, that Chiron Vision's Vitrasert implant be approved for sale. Patients undergo a 45-minute outpatient eye surgery to implant the capsule behind their retina; it works for about eight months. A study of 173 patients showed the implant prevented progression of their eye infection about three times longer than intravenous ganciclovir--220 days versus 72 days. Chiron Corp.'s shares closed up $2.00 to $106.50 on the Nasdaq.

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