Pentagon Halts Aids Vaccine Test Defense Dept. Will Study Other Methods, Paper Says

Article excerpt

THE DEFENSE Department is scuttling a $20 million clinical trial of an experimental AIDS vaccine pushed through Congress by the drug manufacturer, The Washington Post reported Sunday.

The newspaper said it had obtained a letter from Edward Martin, acting assistant defense secretary, to the heads of the Food and Drug Administration and the National Institutes of Health advising that the study would be dropped.

Instead, the paper reported, the Pentagon will call for proposals to develop and test other AIDS treatments. Those proposals will be subject to traditional scientific peer review.

The dropped study would have involved an experimental AIDS vaccine called VaxSyn, made by Connecticut-based MicroGeneSys. In the late 1980s, the National Institutes of Health rejected efforts by the company to conduct full-scale tests of the drug, also known as gp-160, on the ground that extensive tests were premature.

But in 1992 the company hired former Sen. Russell B. Long, D-La., to lobby for it, and Congress subsequently bypassed normal scientific channels and ordered the $20 million trial. …