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Critics point out that while the trials showed that BiDil saved lives, they failed to show whether the drug worked better in blacks than in other groups or that it worked only in blacks. "Race is a placeholder for something else," says Dr. Clyde Yancy, a cardiologist at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center and a BiDil investigator. "And that's probably a mix of biomarkers, demographics and genes."
NitroMed declined to comment on its marketing strategy, but some doctors voiced concern that the company remain sensitive to African-American fears. "I hope they market BiDil with great caution and care," says Gary Puckrein, executive director of the National Minority Health Month Foundation. "This really isn't a race drug but a drug that works in specific populations for reasons we don't yet understand." --With reporting by Sora Song