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D. A Doctor's Guide to Protease Inhibitors

Narrator: This is Science Today. Protease inhibitors, powerful new AIDS drugs, are raising new hopes that the virus might be defeated, or at least contained. But the drugs are so new, doctors often aren't sure when or how to prescribe them. Dr. James Kahn of the University of California, San Francisco hopes to change that with a new study -- a sort of doctor's guide to protease inhibitors.

Kahn: Effective treatments are on the market even before studies that led to their approval have been peer-reviewed. So we thought that the regular providers who see patients were going to be left to the kinds of information that the pharmaceutical companies would like them to receive. And that's certainly not a fair or unbiased approach.

Narrator: It's unusual for drugs to be released before they're studied. But AIDS isn't your usual epidemic, says Kahn.

Kahn: You don't know if you're doing it the best way. You certainly know you're doing it an effective way. So I think a lot of the refinements will occur after the drugs have been marketed, but at least that way, patients have access to them.

Narrator: For Science Today, I'm Steve Tokar.