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New HIV Drug Leads the Pack


Starr noted that the pediatric study used Sustiva formulated in capsules, as the cake icing-flavored liquid formulation became available only after the study began. However, Starr said that preliminary results from a new study using the liquid show no difference in efficacy but a much lower incidence of rash, a side effect of the drug in 30% of the study children.

In addition to rash, which generally resolves after two weeks of continued dosing, Sustiva causes central nervous system (CNS) symptoms in more than half of patients. These symptoms can include dizziness, trouble sleeping, drowsiness, trouble concentrating, or vivid dreams and nightmares, but they usually resolve after two to four weeks. However, the drug is not recommended for psychotic patients, a few of whom have had very severe symptoms far different than the usual CNS effects. Also, women taking Sustiva must avoid pregnancy, as the drug causes birth defects in animals. The drug can be taken with or without food but not with a high-fat meal.

Vital Information:

  • Sustiva, in combination with other drugs, is a potent anti-HIV treatment.
  • The combination of Sustiva and Viracept (a protease inhibitor) works very well even in young children, and is easier to take than other anti-HIV drug combinations.
  • While less toxic than some HIV drugs for some people, Sustiva has side effects. It must never be taken by pregnant women or women who are planning on becoming pregnant.

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