The Food and Drug Administration approved the heart failure drug BiDil Thursday for use by blacks, making it the first drug to be marketed for a specific racial group and calling the approval a step toward "the promise of personalized medicine."
Studies showed that blacks benefited from the drug, marketed by NitroMed of Lexington, Mass., while the general population did not. The drug led to a 43% reduction in deaths from heart failure among the blacks who took it. Research was stopped early after scientists realized the benefits of the drug so the data could be presented for the drug's approval.
"In the future, we hope to discover characteristics that identify people of any race who might be helped by BiDil," said Robert Temple, M.D., the agency's associate director of medical policy.