History - March 19, 1987: The FDA Approves AZT for Treatment of AIDS

History – March 19, 1987: The FDA Approves AZT for the Treatment of AIDS

On March 19, 1987, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the use of the antiretroviral drug zidovudine, commonly known as AZT, for the treatment of AIDS. This approval marked a significant milestone in the fight against HIV/AIDS, as AZT became the first drug approved to treat the disease.

AZT was first synthesized in the 1960s as a potential cancer treatment, but it was later found to have antiretroviral properties. In 1985, clinical trials were conducted on AZT to evaluate its effectiveness in treating AIDS, which was a rapidly growing epidemic at the time. The trials showed promising results, with AZT reducing the risk of death and disease progression in HIV-positive individuals.

After the trials, Burroughs Wellcome (now part of GlaxoSmithKline), the company that developed AZT, applied for FDA approval. The FDA granted accelerated approval, which allowed AZT to be made available to patients while further studies were conducted.

The approval of AZT was a turning point in the history of AIDS. Prior to AZT, there were no drugs available to treat the disease, and patients faced a bleak future with few treatment options. With AZT, patients had a ray of hope, as the drug could extend their lives and improve their quality of life.

However, AZT was not a cure for AIDS, and it had limitations. It was expensive, with a price tag of $10,000 per year, making it inaccessible to many patients. It also had significant side effects, including anemia, nausea, and headaches.

Despite these limitations, the approval of AZT was a major breakthrough in the fight against HIV/AIDS. It paved the way for the development of other antiretroviral drugs, which have transformed AIDS from a death sentence to a manageable chronic condition. Today, HIV-positive individuals can live long, healthy lives with the help of antiretroviral therapy, thanks in large part to the approval of AZT on March 19, 1987.

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