FDA Approves Drug for Cryptococcal Meningitis in HIV Patients

Deerfield, Ill., July 5 (Reuters) -- The US Food and Drug Administration approved the antifungal drug AmBisome for the treatment of cryptococcal meningitis in HIV-infected patients, Fujisawa Healthcare Inc. and Gilead Sciences Inc. said Wednesday.

Cryptococcal meningitis is a life-threatening infection of the membranes lining the brain and spinal cord and occurs when a patient is exposed to the fungus cryptococcus neofor-mans. The organism can infect almost all organs in the body but most commonly causes disease of the spinal cord, skin or lungs.

The majority of people with cryptococcal meningitis have immune systems that are damaged by disease, such as AIDS, or suppressed by medications. It affects 5 to 10 percent of people infected with HIV.

AmBisome is also used to treat fungal infection in febrile neutropenic cancer patients, as well as patients with aspergillus, candida and cryptococcus species infections and visceral leishmaniasis.