Objective: To determine the relative efficacies of alternative antipneumocystis agents in human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)-infected patients with Pneumocystis carinii pneumonia unresponsive to primary drug treatment with a combination product of trimethoprim and sulfamethoxazole or parenteral pentamidine.
Methods: Meta-analysis of 27 published clinical drug trials, case series, and case reports involving P carinii pneumonia. Data extracted included underlying disease, primary antipneumocystis treatment, days of failed primary treatment, salvage regimen, use of systemic corticosteroids and antiretroviral drugs, and clinical outcome.
Results: In 497 patients with microbiologically confirmed P carinii pneumonia (456 with HIV or acquired immunodeficiency syndrome), initial antipneumocystis treatment failed and they therefore required alternative drug therapy. Failed regimens included trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole (160 patients), intravenous pentamidine (63 patients), trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole and/or pentamidine (258 patients), aerosolized pentamidine (6 patients), atovaquone (3 patients), dapsone (3 patients), a combination product of trimethoprim and dapsone (2 patients), and trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole followed by a combination of clindamycin and primaquine phosphate (2 patients). Efficacies of salvage regimens were as follows: clindamycin-primaquine (42 to 44 [88%-92%] of 48 patients; P<10(-8)), atovaquone (4 [80%] of 5), eflornithine hydrochloride (40 [57%] of 70; P<.01), trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole (27 [53%] of 51; P<.08), pentamidine (64 [39%] of 164), and trimetrexate (47 [30%] of 159).
Conclusion: The combination of clindamycin plus primaquine appears to be the most effective alternative treatment for patients with P carinii pneumonia who are unresponsive to conventional antipneumocystis agents.