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The Boston Globe

Business

Patients’ advocates press FDA to retain lifesaving drugs

Within hours after sales of a powerful new leukemia drug were stopped last month because of potentially lethal side effects, loosely organized groups of doctors and patients — determined to keep getting a medicine they depend on — sprang into action across the country.

They began making calls and writing letters to regulators, seeking assurance that people already taking Iclusig, developed by Cambridge’s Ariad Pharmaceuticals Inc., would have uninterrupted access to the treatment while Food and Drug Administration officials pored over new clinical data on its toxic side effects and haggled with Ariad about revised wording on a warning label.

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