The initiation of a limited international compassionate treatment program to supply Hoffmann-La Roche Inc.'s Invirase saquinavir protease inhibitor for AIDS apparently won't do much to change the competitive picture for the other companies developing similar products.

Hoffmann-La Roche launched the program in response to requests from the AIDS community and the FDA, according to spokesperson Gail Levinson. The company will provide free drug under an open label safety protocol to patients who aren't eligible for clinical trials or who no longer benefit from existing therapies.