Micafungin sodium, the second of the echinocandin class of antifungals: theory and practice

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Micafungin is a new drug in the echinocandin class and is currently being investigated in Phase III clinical trials. Like other echinocandins, it inhibits 1,3-β-D-glucan synthesis, thus achieving fungicidal activity against virtually all Candida spp., including those resistant to fluconazole, and fungistatic activity against Aspergillus spp. Micafungin sodium is available for intravenous administration only. It has a favorable safety and drug–drug interaction profile. Micafungin has been approved by the US FDA for treatment of esophageal candidiasis and for antifungal prophylaxis during the pre-engraftment phase in patients undergoing hematopoietic stem cell transplantation. Considering the competitive pricing as well as the good tolerability and efficacy, at present micafungin seems to be another choice for both of these indications. Current research has proven micafungin sodium to add a rational and effective option to the antifungal armamentarium, especially in esophageal candidiasis refractory to fluconazole treatment, in those intolerant to triazoles or in patients needing concomitant therapy interacting with triazoles. In addition to the current indications, recent uncontrolled clinical trials have demonstrated a marked success in the treatment of candidemia and invasive candidiasis. Results from in vitro studies, animal models, small clinical trials, as well as the obvious comparison with the more established caspofungin, hint at possible future indications such as invasive aspergillosis and empirical antifungal therapy. However, preclinical data on micafungin is inconsistent and published well-designed clinical studies are scarce. More controlled and sufficiently scaled trials are imperative in order to establish micafungin as a reliable and safe option in clinical practice.

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