BETHESDA, Md. - An FDA advisory committee voted Friday that the benefits of making thalidomide available on a restricted basis to some leprosy patients outweigh the known risks, including the possibility that pregnant women could take the drug and give birth to severely disabled children.

The recommendation was based on Celgene Corp.'s application to market its formulation of thalidomide for treatment of skin lesions and fever associated erythema nodusum leprosum (ENL), a severe and debilitating condition that afflicts leprosy victims.