Review Articles Special Populations

Clinical Pharmacokinetics

, Volume 39, Issue 4, pp 281-293

First online:


Pharmacokinetic Considerations in Children and Pregnant Women
  • Mark MirochnickAffiliated withBoston Medical Center — Maternity 6 Email author 
  • , Diana F. ClarkeAffiliated withBoston Medical Center
  • , Alejandro DorenbaumAffiliated withUniversity of California, San Francisco, School of Medicine

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Nevirapine is a potent non-nucleoside inhibitor of HIV-1 reverse transcriptase. It is effective when used as part of combination therapy to treat HIV-1—infected individuals and as monotherapy for prevention of mother-to-child HIV-1 transmission. Nevirapine pharmacokinetics are characterised by rapid absorption and distribution, followed by prolonged elimination. Nevirapine is generally well tolerated. The most common toxicity is rash, which is usually mild and self-limiting.

The primary route of nevirapine elimination is through metabolism by the cytochrome P450 enzyme system. Nevirapine elimination accelerates during long term administration because of autoinduction of the enzymes involved in its elimination pathway. The recommended regimen for adults is nevirapine 200mg once daily for 2 weeks, followed by 200mg twice daily. Nevirapine elimination is prolonged in pregnant women during labour and in newborns. A regimen of a single 200mg oral dose administered to the mother during labour and a single 2 mg/kg dose administered to the newborn at 48 to 72 hours after birth maintains serum nevirapine concentrations above 100 µg/L (10 times the in vitro 50% inhibitory concentration against wild-type HIV-1) throughout the first week of life. This limited regimen has been shown to be extremely well tolerated and to reduce mother-to-child transmission by nearly 50% in mothers and infants receiving no other antiretrovirals.

There are few data describing the safety and pharmacokinetics of nevirapine during long term use in pregnancy. In children, nevirapine elimination accelerates during the first years of life, reaching a maximum at around 2 years of age, followed by a gradual decline during the rest of childhood. Children should receive 4 mg/kg once daily for the first 2 weeks of therapy, followed by 7 mg/kg doses twice daily if below the age of 8 years or 4 mg/kg twice daily if older than 8 years. Alternatively, children may receive 150 mg/m2 across all ages, once daily for the first 2 weeks of therapy followed by the same dose twice daily.