Switching from Viracept?
Nov 6, 2007
I am the guardian of my 16 year old sister who was born HIV+. She has been on Viracept for several years (approximately 9-10). Considering the recent discovery of the cancer-causing substance found in Viracept, I'm considering the option of switching her to a different medication. She's been doing very well on her current regimen - Combivir and Viracept, so the decision is very difficult. I know the FDA recommended not to switch patients who are doing well on the drug, but I read the recommendations of Canadian Health Officials, and they recommend switching.
Considering the higher risk of cancer in HIV + patients, especially children and adolescents, what is the best thing to do? Our doctor isn't offering much guidance on this, basically leaving the decision to me. Any advice is appreciated...
Response from Dr. Wohl
I share your concern. Viracept is my least favorite protease inhibitor and so I often look for any excuse to change from this drug to an alternative that is more potent and better tolerated. However, there are people, like your sister who have done exceedingly well on this medication without toxicity. Plus, any change always risks some new side effect so changes are not to be done lightly.
It seems that the Viracept contamination problem involves Europe but not the US, Canada or Japan. If you are in the US or Canada there is no known need to change course for this reason alone. The FDA is all over Pfizer to make sure the levels of this contaminant remain below standard thresholds.
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