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Clinical Science

Switching from protease inhibitors to efavirenz: differences in efficacy and tolerance among risk groups: a case–control study from the Swiss HIV Cohort

Hirschel, Bernarda; Flepp, Markusb; Bucher, Heiner C.c; Zellweger, Claudined; Telenti, Amalioe; Wagels, Thomasf; Bernasconi, Enosg; Ledergerber, Bruno*; and the Swiss HIV Cohort

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Objectives: Many patients have simplified their therapy by replacing protease inhibitors (PI) with efavirenz. In a large cohort study representative of clinical practice, we compared outcomes in patients who replaced PI with efavirenz (switchers), with patients who continued on PI (non-switchers). We investigated the likelihood of virological failure in switchers and non-switchers, and the tolerance of efavirenz-containing regimens in different transmission risk groups.

Design, setting, and methods: Using the database of the Swiss HIV Cohort Study, we identified patients who switched from PI-containing to efavirenz-containing highly active antiretroviral therapy for reasons of tolerance, toxicity, or convenience. Switchers were matched to non-switchers on the basis of calendar time, CD4 cell count, and viral load.

Results: The probability of virological failure was less in patients who switched to efavirenz values after one year: 9.4% [95% confidence interval (CI) 5.5–15.9] versus 27.2% (95% CI 21.5–34.1), odds ratio (OR) for failure 0.34. The effect was more pronounced when injection drug users (IDU) were omitted from the analysis (OR 0.19, 95% CI 0.09–0.43); it was absent in IDU (OR 0.95, 95% CI 0.44–2.04). IDU stopped efavirenz more frequently during the first 2 months of treatment than non-IDU [22.6% (95% CI 11.5–41.6) versus 6.6% (95% CI 3.6–11.8) at 2 months]. No difference between IDU and non-IDU was evident when the frequency of stopping indinavir or nelfinavir was measured.

Conclusion: Switchers had less virological failure and less chance of further treatment changes than non-switchers. However, efavirenz was less successful in IDU than in other transmission categories.

© 2002 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.


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