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Update on Drugs and Drug News - Number 6 1998

Class Name/Company Approval Dates and Comments


SmithKline Beecham

Approved by the US FDA June 1998 for the treatment of recurrent herpes simplex virus infections in HIV-infected patients. Famciclovir was previously approved for the treatment or suppression of recurrent genital herpes and the treatment of herpes zoster in immunocompetent patients.


Acyclovir sodium
Glaxo Wellcome

Approved by the US FDA June 1998 for the supplemental indication of treatment of herpes simplex virus infections in neonatal patients



Canadian approval was granted recently for the new indication of topical treatment of mild to moderate psoriasis in children aged two years and older.

Erythema nodosum leprosum

Thalidomide 50 mg

Approved by the US FDA July, 1998 to treat ENL. No one can prescribe it or take it without participating in a safety program. Women of childbearing age must take repeated pregnancy tests and use two forms of contraception during treatment. Recommended dosage is 100 to 300 mg/day once daily. Reviewed in Skin Therapy Letter, Volume 3, Number 3.

Male-pattern hair-loss

Finasteride 1mg tablets

Finasteride has been approved in Canada for the treatment of male-pattern hair loss. It was approved for this indication by the US FDA in December, 1997.

Aids vaccine to enter phase III clinical trial

Aids vaccine
VaxGen Inc.

Given approval by the US FDA July, 1998 to undergo phase III evaluation for use in the prevention of AIDS. The trial will take three years to complete and will recruit 5000 US and 2500 Thai patients.

Drug Warning


Four per cent of HIV-1 patients ( 42 affected ) being treated with indinavir presented with paronychia of the great toes, suggesting a possible link between hypertrophic paronychia and treatment with protease inhibitors. Bouscarat F, Bouchard C, Bouhour D. New Eng J Med 1998; 338: 1998.

Calcipotriene ointment is unstable with some other topical preparations

Calcipotriene 0.005%
Dovonex® ointment
Bristol-Myers Squibb

Calcipotriene ointment degraded when mixed with hydrocortisone-17-valerate ointment 0.2%, ammonium lactate lotion and salicylic acid 6%, but was compatible with halobetasol proprionate ointment and cream 0.05% and a tar gel. Patel B, Siskin S, Krazmien R et al. Compatibility of calcipotriene with other topical medications. J Am Acad Dermatol 1998; 38: 1010-1.

In this issue:

  1. Oral Lichen Planus: Treatment Options
  2. Nail Psoriasis: Treatment Options
  3. Sunscreen Controversies
  4. Update on Drugs and Drug News - Number 6 1998