Children living with HIV in sub-Saharan Africa can be treated with one of two antiretroviral drugs nevirapine or efavirenz. Most countries use nevirapine because it is less expensive and a pediatric formula is more readily available. Researchers in the United States and Botswana compared the effectiveness of both drugs and found initial treatment with efavirenz had better results. Elizabeth Lowenthal of the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and lead author of the study noted that prices for bulk drug purchases are lower after negotiations between health officials and pharmaceutical companies. Robert Gross, the study’s senior author and a University of Pennsylvania professor, stated that more could be done to make the drug financially viable for treating children in resource-limited settings.
The full report, “Association Between Efavirenz-Based Compared With Nevirapine-Based Antiretroviral Regimens and Virological Failure in HIV-Infected Children,” was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (2013; 309(17):1803–1809).