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Gilead Drug Gets Key FDA Panel Recommendation

As expected,

Gilead Sciences'

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experimental AIDS drug received a positive recommendation from an advisory panel of the Food and Drug Administration.

The panel voted Wednesday to recommend approval of Viread, based on its ability to

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reduce levels of HIV in patients who are failing other treatments. Viread is a pill taken once a day in combination with other AIDS drugs.

The recommendation will now be passed along to the full FDA, which typically follows its panel's advice.

Gilead is hoping to market Viread to all AIDS patients and not just those who are failing existing treatments, but the panel wasn't willing to go that far. The panel voted 9-7 to restrict approval to drug-resistant patients only.

Gilead is currently conducting additional tests to convince the FDA to expand the drug's use.

Shares of Gilead will reopen for trading Thursday after being halted for two days because of the FDA panel meeting. The company closed Monday at $56.62 per share.