LONDON, Aug 20 (Reuters) - Pharmaceuticals company Glaxo
Wellcome Plc confirmed a press report on Sunday saying that its
HIV treatment drug Ziagen can spark serious and sometimes fatal
reactions in patients, but said the problems were well known.
An unknown number of patients have died as a result of
so-called hypersensitivity reactions to Ziagen, which was
launched in the United States and Europe last year.
Glaxo said about four percent of patients showed some
susceptibility to this reaction.
But a spokesman said the company had always kept doctors and
patients informed of the possible side-effects, even before the
drug was licensed.
"This has been so well documented that it is very well known,
especially within the HIV community," he said.
He said that as the number of people using the drug grew and
they were carefully monitored, it was hoped that the proportion
of adverse reactions could be brought down.
All treatments of the human immuno-deficiency virus (HIV),
which leads to acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS), are
very potent drugs.
Glaxo's HIV drugs -- from the late 1980s Retrovir to its most
recent ones, Ziagen and Agenerase -- together account for a
third of the market and sales are growing.