2 AIDS Drugs Approved

Federal regulators said yesterday they approved two AIDS drug combinations designed to simplify treatment for patients in the United States and in poor countries grappling with the epidemic.

Makers GlaxoSmithKline PLC and Gilead Sciences Inc. said they will provide the medicines at "no-profit" prices for needy nations. Glaxo also said it would give a free 60-day supply of its combination drug, Epzicom, to U.S. patients.

U.S. officials will consider purchasing the new drugs as part of President Bush's $15 billion anti-AIDS effort, a spokeswoman for the Office of the Global AIDS Coordinator said.

Kerry Seeks Briefings

Democratic nominee John F. Kerry, who has received two intelligence briefings since beginning his campaign for president, has asked the White House to arrange for regular such briefings between now and the Nov. 2 election.

"We've been in contact with the White House and expect to get regular intelligence briefings," said Brooke Anderson, speaking for Kerry.

During the last election, candidate George W. Bush received one intelligence briefing, the same number as challengers Bill Clinton in 1992 and Sen. Robert J. Dole (R-Kan.) in 1996. The precedent for more was set in the 1976 campaign, when Jimmy Carter, challenging incumbent Gerald R. Ford, was briefed about every two weeks, the CIA found.

For the Record

* Hospitals will receive $5 billion more in Medicare payments next year, including a small bonus for reporting quality data to the government, Medicare chief Mark B. McClellan said. Payments to urban hospitals will average 5.7 percent more next year and rural hospitals 6.2 percent. Hospital payments are projected to total $105 billion in the fiscal year that begins in October.

* About 5 million children were added to government health programs since 2001, many because their parents lost employer-sponsored insurance, according to a new study. Medicaid and the state Children's Health Insurance Program provided a safety net for children whose parents' coverage ended or became too expensive during the economic downturn at the start of the decade, the Center for Studying Health System Change, a private research organization, said in a report to be released today. A separate Urban Institute report, also being released today, highlights problems children face when they lack insurance, including missing regular checkups and visiting hospital emergency rooms for routine care.

-- From News Services and Staff Reports