- - Tuesday, May 8, 2012

A pill that has long been used to treat HIV has moved one step closer to becoming the first drug approved to prevent healthy people from becoming infected with the virus that causes AIDS.

The Food and Drug Administration said Tuesday that Gilead Sciences’ Truvada appears to be safe and effective for HIV prevention. It concluded that taking the pill daily could spare patients “infection with a serious and life-threatening illness that requires lifelong treatment.”

On Thursday, a panel of FDA advisers will consider the review when it votes on whether Truvada should be approved as a preventative treatment for people who are at high risk of contracting HIV through sexual intercourse. The FDA is not required to follow the advice of its panels, but it usually does.

An estimated 1.2 million Americans have HIV, which attacks the immune system and, unless treated with antiviral drugs, develops into AIDS, a fatal condition in which the body cannot fight off infections. If Truvada is approved, it would be a major breakthrough in the 30-year campaign against the AIDS epidemic. No other drugs have been proved to prevent HIV, and a vaccine is believed to be decades away.

Gilead Sciences Inc. has marketed Truvada since 2004 for people infected with the virus. It is a combination of two older HIV drugs, Emtriva and Viread.

NEW YORK

Twitter fights subpoena in NYC Occupy arrest case

NEW YORK — Twitter is resisting an attempt by New York City prosecutors to gain access to the account of an Occupy Wall Street protester.

The San Francisco-based micro-blogging service filed court papers Monday asking a judge to quash a subpoena in which the Manhattan district attorney demanded the tweets and user information of writer and activist Malcolm Harris.

Mr. Harris was among about 700 people arrested on the Brooklyn Bridge last fall during a protest against financial inequality.

Among other things, prosecutors want to look at all of Mr. Harris‘ tweets in the weeks before and after the march.

Mr. Harris tried to fight the subpoena on his own and lost. Twitter’s lawyers say prosecutors should be required to get a search warrant.

MASSACHUSETTS

Plans for casino near Patriots’ home halted

FOXBOROUGH — Efforts to bring a $1 billion resort-style casino proposed by Las Vegas casino operator Steve Wynn to the New England Patriots’ hometown have been suspended.

Tuesday’s announcement by the Kraft Group and Wynn Resorts came a day after Foxborough, Mass., voters elected two selectmen who opposed opening negotiations with Mr. Wynn. He had planned to build the resort on land leased from Patriots owner Robert Kraft.

The law that legalized casino gambling in Massachusetts requires a casino developer first to negotiate an agreement with the host community.

The Kraft Group said in a statement that it thinks the people of Foxborough have spoken and it is suspending its efforts to develop the casino.

INDIA

Air India cancels flights as pilots begin strike

NEW DELHI — Air India canceled four international flights Tuesday after about 150 pilots failed to turn up for work in a protest against unpaid salaries and work conditions.

The airline has sacked 10 pilots and ordered the striking pilots to return to work by Tuesday evening, said K. Swaminathan, an Air India official.

Passengers who boarded an Air India flight to Chicago from Mumbai found themselves stranded in New Delhi after the flight was disrupted by the strike at its stopover there.

Air India, which operates about 50 international flights every day, has canceled flights from New Delhi to Chicago and Toronto, and from Mumbai to Hong Kong and New York’s Newark airport.

The government recently pledged a $6 billion bailout for the ailing national carrier. Air India has been losing about $1 billion a year as it struggles with the legacy of a poorly executed 2007 merger, debt and a swollen staff.

From wire dispatches and staff reports