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Worried about delavirdine

Nov 13, 2000

I recently started therapy for the first time after being diagnosed with HIV 2 years ago. My doctor prescribed Combivir and abacavir 2 weeks ago. I have been taking this combination with no real problems. Just yesterday, my doctor prescribed delavirdine. I am concerned that about the potency of delavirdine. If I needed another drug in my combination to reduce my viral load or prolong viral suppression, shouldn't I have been given nevirapine or efavirenz as an nnrti choice?

Response from Dr. Cohen

Well it is unclear what motivated the decision to pick delavirdine in preference to the others. You do hear more about the others since the data we have have led us to be more confident in them. However at least one study a few years ago with Combivir and delavirdine did reasonably well, especially in those with a lower initial viral load. The meds may have been started this way in order to avoid the overlapping side effect of rash which can happen on both delavirdine and abacavir - so staggering these meds this way might allow us to better guess which med is causing a rash if you have one.

Note that it is different to start on combivir, abacavir and delavirdine nearly all together as you have when all four are potent, rather than using delavirdine to rescue you if the combivir/abacavir was not fully successful. You were adding it before there was much if any chance for HIV to create resistance to the initial 3 meds - so this should work about as well as starting all 4 together. If instead one med is added after the first three have shown they were not potent enough (viral load still above 50 after several months - we would tend not to use the nonnukes for that circumstance.

So why not ask the person prescribing these why they chose delavirdine and not one of the others? Perhaps concerns for how you would handle the potential side effects of efavirenz/sustiva (mood changes) and nevirapine (liver toxicity) led them to delavirdine which appears to have no mood changes and perhaps less liver toxicity?

Hope it worked.


Cal Cohen, M.D., M.S.

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