Objective: To assess the drug concentrations, efficacy and safety of concomitant use of rifampicin and regimens containing ritonavir/saquinavir (400mg/400mg twice daily) in tuberculosis-HIV treatment-naive patients.
Design and methods: This was an open-label, non-randomised, multiple-dose study. On study day (D)1, tuberculosis treatment (rifampicin 600mg/isoniazid 400mg per day fasting plus pyrazinamide 2 g/day) was introduced in 30 patients. On D31, highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) consisting of two nucleoside analogues plus ritonavir/saquinavir 400mg/400mg twice daily was initiated (n = 20).
The pharmacokinetics were assayed with a validated reversed-phase HPLC method before the introduction of HAART on D30 (for rifampicin), after 30 days of HAART at D60 (for rifampicin plus ritonavir/saquinavir), and at the end of the study (without rifampicin) on D210 (for ritonavir/saquinavir). Clinical evaluations were performed on a monthly basis. CD4 counts and viral load were collected on D30, D60 and D180. Genotyping test for HIV was collected at baseline and at D180. Primary endpoints were drug concentration and viral load at D180 (<80 copies/mL). Secondary endpoints were presence of grade 3 and serious adverse events, clinical improvement, CD4 count and genotypic resistance to ritonavir/saquinavir.
Results: Ten patients dropped out of the study during tuberculosis therapy alone. Mean (± SD) baseline CD4 count (on D30) was 151.89 (± 146.77) cells/mm3 and viral load was 5.34 (± 0.4) log. During the antiretroviral therapy, 15 patients dropped out, 14 because of adverse events. One patient (of five) presented a viral load of <80 copies/mL at D180. All but one patient increased CD4 counts from baseline. No genotypic resistance was detected. Clinical improvement was evident in all five patients who tolerated the therapy. Serum concentrations of ritonavir/saquinavir and rifampicin remained within the therapeutic range.
Conclusions: Therapeutic concentrations of the studied drugs and reduction of viral load were achieved; adverse events are the main limitation of use of a ritonavir/saquinavir regimen in treatment-naive patients, but its clinical benefits were evident.