Maribavir for Preemptive Treatment of Cytomegalovirus Reactivation

N Engl J Med. 2019 Sep 19;381(12):1136-1147. doi: 10.1056/NEJMoa1714656.


Background: Maribavir is a benzimidazole riboside with activity against cytomegalovirus (CMV). The safety and efficacy of maribavir for preemptive treatment of CMV infection in transplant recipients is not known.

Methods: In a phase 2, open-label, maribavir dose-blinded trial, recipients of hematopoietic-cell or solid-organ transplants (≥18 years of age, with CMV reactivation [1000 to 100,000 DNA copies per milliliter]) were randomly assigned to receive maribavir at a dose of 400, 800, or 1200 mg twice daily or the standard dose of valganciclovir for no more than 12 weeks. The primary efficacy end point was the percentage of patients with a response to treatment, defined as confirmed undetectable CMV DNA in plasma, within 3 weeks and 6 weeks after the start of treatment. The primary safety end point was the incidence of adverse events that occurred or worsened during treatment.

Results: Of the 161 patients who underwent randomization, 159 received treatment, and 156 had postbaseline data available - 117 in the maribavir group and 39 in the valganciclovir group. The percentage of patients with postbaseline data available who had a response to treatment within 3 weeks was 62% among those who received maribavir and 56% among those who received valganciclovir. Within 6 weeks, 79% and 67% of patients, respectively, had a response (risk ratio, 1.20; 95% confidence interval, 0.95 to 1.51). The percentages of patients with a response to treatment were similar among the maribavir dose groups. Two patients who had a response to treatment had a recurrence of CMV infection within 6 weeks after starting maribavir at a dose of 800 mg twice daily; T409M resistance mutations in CMV UL97 protein kinase developed in both patients. The incidence of serious adverse events that occurred or worsened during treatment was higher in the maribavir group than in the valganciclovir group (52 of 119 patients [44%] vs. 13 of 40 [32%]). A greater percentage of patients in the maribavir group discontinued the trial medication because of an adverse event (27 of 119 [23%] vs. 5 of 40 [12%]). A higher incidence of gastrointestinal adverse events was reported with maribavir, and a higher incidence of neutropenia was reported with valganciclovir.

Conclusions: Maribavir at a dose of at least 400 mg twice daily had efficacy similar to that of valganciclovir for clearing CMV viremia among recipients of hematopoietic-cell or solid-organ transplants. A higher incidence of gastrointestinal adverse events - notably dysgeusia - and a lower incidence of neutropenia were found in the maribavir group. (Funded by ViroPharma/Shire Development; EudraCT number, 2010-024247-32.).

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial, Phase II
  • Comparative Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Allografts
  • Antiviral Agents / adverse effects
  • Antiviral Agents / pharmacology
  • Antiviral Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Benzimidazoles / adverse effects
  • Benzimidazoles / pharmacology
  • Benzimidazoles / therapeutic use*
  • Cytomegalovirus / drug effects
  • Cytomegalovirus / physiology*
  • Cytomegalovirus Infections / drug therapy*
  • Cytomegalovirus Infections / virology
  • Dysgeusia / chemically induced
  • Female
  • Gastrointestinal Diseases / chemically induced
  • Hematopoietic Stem Cell Transplantation / adverse effects
  • Humans
  • Intention to Treat Analysis
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neutropenia / chemically induced
  • Organ Transplantation / adverse effects
  • Ribonucleosides / adverse effects
  • Ribonucleosides / pharmacology
  • Ribonucleosides / therapeutic use*
  • Valganciclovir / adverse effects
  • Valganciclovir / pharmacology
  • Valganciclovir / therapeutic use*
  • Viremia / drug therapy*
  • Virus Activation / drug effects


  • Antiviral Agents
  • Benzimidazoles
  • Ribonucleosides
  • Valganciclovir
  • maribavir

Associated data

  • EudraCT/2010-024247-32