Nevirapine Pharmacokinetics and Safety in Neonates Receiving Combination Antiretroviral Therapy for Prevention of Vertical HIV Transmission

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Nevirapine (NVP)-based combination antiretroviral therapy is routinely prescribed to infants deemed at high risk of vertical HIV infection in our centers. We evaluated NVP pharmacokinetics and safety of this regimen.


Neonates were recruited prospectively between September 2012 and April 2015 or enrolled retrospectively if treated similarly before prospective study initiation. NVP was dosed at 150 mg/m2 daily for 14 days, then twice daily for 14 days. NVP levels were drawn at weeks 1, 2, and 4 [target trough (NVP-T): 3–8 mg/L].


Thirty-three neonates were included (23 prospectively). Median gestational age (GA) and birth weight were 38 weeks (32–41 weeks) and 2.9 kg (1.5–4.2 kg), respectively. Median NVP-Ts were 8.2 mg/L (1.6–25.1 mg/L), 3.5 mg/L (1.6–6.8 mg/L), and 4.3 mg/L (0.1–19.9 mg/L) at weeks 1, 2, and 4, respectively. The proportions with therapeutic NVP-T were 42%, 61%, and 73% at these same timepoints. Median apparent oral clearance (CL/F) increased from 0.05 L·kg−1·h−1 (0.01–0.50 L·kg−1·h−1) at week 2 to 0.18 L·kg−1·h−1 (0.01–0.78 L·kg−1·h−1) at week 4. Increased drug exposure [area under the curve (AUCτ)] correlated with younger GA (r = 0.459, P = 0.032) and lower birth weight (r = 0.542, P = 0.009). The most common adverse events potentially attributable to combination antiretroviral therapy were transient asymptomatic hyperlactatemia (26%), anemia (24.7%), and neutropenia (22.1%).


Treatment dose NVP was generally well-tolerated and associated with normalization of trough levels over time in most cases without dose adjustment. Lower empiric dosing is recommended for infants <34 weeks of GA. Routine therapeutic drug monitoring may not be required for infants ≥34 weeks of GA.

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