Experimental Drugs

January 23, 1987

Report Outline
Special Focus


They are mostly young men and they had not expected to face death in their 20s or 30s. They have AIDS (acquired immune deficiency syndrome) and they are desperate. Hundreds, perhaps thousands, of them in recent years have journeyed to the farmacias in Tijuana, Mexico, to buy isoprinosine and ribavirin, drugs considered experimental in the United States and so not commercially available here. But now a promising AIDS drug appears to be winning Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval for use in this country. The drug is azidothymidine (AZT) and it has moved rapidly through the FDA's review system.

On average, it takes 7–9 years for new drugs to get from the point at which they are first tested on humans to final approval by the FDA for commercial use. In the case of AZT, the journey will have taken about a year-and-a-half if the drug receives final FDA approval soon.

For AIDS-related drugs at least, AZT's quick trip through the regulatory process appears to reflect an effort by the federal government to ensure that urgently needed new drugs reach the marketplace with a minimum of delay.

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
Drug Abuse and Trafficking
Aug. 06, 2021  Opioid Crisis
Jul. 24, 2019  Opioid Addiction
Jun. 14, 2018  Opioid Addiction
Jun. 29, 2017  Drug Abuse
Oct. 07, 2016  Opioid Crisis
Jul. 19, 2016  Drug Abuse
May 02, 2014  Treating Addiction
Jun. 03, 2011  Teen Drug Use
Jun. 12, 2009  Legalizing Marijuana Updated
Dec. 12, 2008  Mexico's Drug War
Feb. 09, 2007  Combating Addiction
Jun. 02, 2006  War on Drugs
Jul. 15, 2005  Methamphetamine
Jul. 28, 2000  Drug-Policy Debate
Nov. 20, 1998  Drug Testing
Jan. 06, 1995  Treating Addiction
Mar. 19, 1993  War on Drugs
Feb. 23, 1990  Does the War on Drugs Need a New Strategy?
May 20, 1988  The Business of Illicit Drugs
Jan. 23, 1987  Experimental Drugs
Feb. 08, 1985  The Fight Against Drug Smuggling
Aug. 27, 1982  Cocaine: Drug of the Eighties
Jun. 11, 1982  Prescription-Drug Abuse
Jan. 23, 1976  Changing U.S. Drug Policy
Dec. 13, 1972  World Drug Traffic
May 27, 1970  Heroin Addiction
Jan. 27, 1965  Psychotoxic Drugs
Jul. 18, 1962  Narcotics Addiction: Punishment or Treatment
Sep. 05, 1956  Control of Drug Addiction
Mar. 28, 1951  Drug Addiction
Drug Abuse