New Contraindications to Coadministration of Atazanavir


The Committee for Medicinal Products for Human Use (CHMP) of the European Medicines Agency (EMA) this week recommended new contraindications on the coadministration of the protease inhibitor atazanavir (Reyataz, Bristol-Myers Squibb) with antineoplastic agents encorafenib and ivosidenib (atazanavir may significantly increase blood levels and thus side effects), and with the anticonvulsants carbamazepine, phenobarbital, and phenytoin (which may decrease serum levels of atazanavir). 

The new rules alter sections 4.3 and 4.5 of the summary of product characteristics (SmPC) to reclassify drug–drug interactions with the new contraindications.

Atazanavir is an orally administered drug, used in combination with low-dose ritonavir (Norvir) to boost its pharmacokinetics. It is indicated for the treatment of HIV-1 infected adults and pediatric patients 3 months of age and older in combination with other antiretroviral medicinal products. A combination preparation boosted with cobicistat (Evotaz) is also available.

The drug is an azapeptide HIV-1 protease inhibitor (PI) that selectively inhibits the virus-specific processing of viral Gag-Pol proteins in HIV-1 infected cells, thus preventing formation of mature virions and infection of other cells. This prevents the virus from multiplying and slows the spread of infection. Based on available virological and clinical data from adult patients, no benefit is expected in patients with HIV strains resistant to multiple protease inhibitors (four or more PI mutations).

Therapy with atazanavir is intended to be initiated by a physician experienced in the management of HIV infection, with the choice of atazanavir in treatment-experienced adult and pediatric patients based on individual viral resistance testing and the patient’s treatment history. The standard dose is 300 mg atazanavir taken with 100 mg ritonavir once daily with food.

Atazanavir is already contraindicated in combination or coadministration with a wide variety of other agents:

  • Coadministration with simvastatin or lovastatin [statins – risk of increased blood levels with atazanavir].
  • Combination with the anti-TB antibiotic rifampicin.
  • Combination with the PDE5 inhibitor sildenafil when used for the treatment of pulmonary arterial hypertension only.
  • Coadministration with substrates of the CYP3A4 isoform of cytochrome P450 that have narrow therapeutic windows (eg, quetiapine, lurasidone, alfuzosin, astemizole, terfenadine, cisapride, pimozide, quinidine, bepridil, triazolam, oral midazolam, lomitapide, and ergot alkaloids).
  • Coadministration with grazoprevir-containing products, including elbasvir/grazoprevir fixed dose combination (hepatitis C drug combination; atazanavir increases its blood levels).
  • Coadministration with glecaprevir/pibrentasvir fixed dose combination (hepatitis C drug combination; increased hepatotoxicity due to increased bilirubin concentration).
  • Coadministration with products containing St. John’s wort (Hypericum perforatum).

The EMA said detailed recommendations for the use of atazanavir will be described in the updated SmPC, which will be published in the revised European public assessment report after a decision on this change to the marketing authorization has been granted by the European Commission.

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