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US Officials Approve Heart Drug for African-Americans

U.S. officials have approved a heart failure drug for black patients, the first known medicine on the market for a specific racial group.

The Food and Drug Administration called Thursday's approval of the drug BiDil "a step toward the promise of personalized medicine."

The agency said the approval was based partly on a study showing African-Americans with severe heart failure who used the drug had a 43 percent reduction in death and a 39 percent decrease in hospitalization, compared with a placebo.

Critics of the drug see a downside to approving medicine for specific races or categories of people. But an FDA official says medical experts hope to discover characteristics that identify people of any race who might be helped by the new drug.