FDA approves AIDS combination pill

WASHINGTON (AP) - In the latest effort to trim the number of pills HIV-infected patients swallow, the government on Wednesday approved Glaxo Wellcome's Trizivir - a combination of the company's older AIDS drugs AZT, 3TC and abacavir.

Glaxo already sold AZT-3TC combination under the brand name Combivir. Adding the third drug to create Trizivir means patients could swallow two pills a day instead of the four needed for Combivir plus abacavir.

However, the three drugs are from an older family of AIDS drugs called nucleoside analogs. The most recommended AIDS therapy today is a newer drug, called a protease inhibitor, plus two nucleoside analogs.

The Food and Drug Administration issued a stern warning while approving Trizivir: About 5 percent of people who try abacavir, also known as Ziagen, suffer a serious, sometimes fatal, allergic reaction - so people trying the new Trizivir run the same risk. Do not take Trizivir if you have experienced hypersensitivity symptoms - fever, skin rash, fatigue, nausea, vomiting or trouble breathing - after taking Ziagen, FDA warned. Patients will receive a symptom warning brochure, and doctors should report hypersensitivity cases by calling 1-800-270-0425.

Glaxo said Trizivir will be available next month and cost $26.60 a day, the same price as the three drugs separately.