Drug interactions with antiviral drugs

Clin Pharmacokinet. 1996 May;30(5):385-401. doi: 10.2165/00003088-199630050-00005.


Antiviral drug interactions are a particular problem among immuno-compromised patients because these patients are often receiving multiple different drugs, i.e. antiretroviral drugs and drugs effective against herpesvirus. The combination of zidovudine and other antiretroviral drugs with different adverse event profiles, such as didanosine, zalcitabine and lamivudine, appears to be well tolerated and no relevant pharmacokinetic interactions have been detected. The adverse effects of didanosine and zalcitabine (i.e. peripheral neuropathy and pancreatitis) should be taken into account when administering these drugs with other drugs with the same tolerability profile. Coadministration of zidovudine and ganciclovir should be avoided because of the high rate of haematological intolerance. In contrast, zidovudine and foscarnet have synergistic effect and no pharmacokinetic interaction has been detected. No major change in zidovudine pharmacokinetics was seen when the drug was combined with aciclovir, famciclovir or interferons. However, concomitant use of zidovudine and ribavirin is not advised. Although no pharmacokinetic interaction was documented when didanosine was first administered with intravenous ganciclovir, recent studies have shown that concentration of didanosine are increased by 50% or more when coadministered with intravenous or oral ganciclovir. The mechanism of this interaction has not been elucidated. Lack of pharmacokinetic interaction was demonstrated between foscarnet and didanosine or ganciclovir. Clinical trials have shown that zidovudine can be administered safely with paracetamol (acetaminophen), nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, oxazepam or codeine. Inhibition of zidovudine glucuronidation has been demonstrated with fluconazole, atovaquone, valproic acid (valproate sodium), methadone, probenecid and inosine pranobex; however, the clinical consequences of this have not been fully investigated. No interaction has been demonstrated with didanosine per se but care should be taken of interaction with the high pH buffer included in the tablet formulation. Drugs that need an acidic pH for absorption (ketoconazole, itraconazole but not fluconazole, dapsone, pyrimethamine) or those that can be chelated by the ions of the buffer (quinolones and tetracyclines) should be administered 2 hours before or 6 hours after didanosine. Very few interaction studies have been undertaken with other antiviral drugs. Coadministration of zalcitabine with the antacid 'Maalox' results in a reduction of its absorption. Dapsone does not influence the disposition of zalcitabine. Cotrimoxazole (trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole) causes an increase in lamivudine concentrations by 43%. Saquinavir, delavirdine and atevirdine appeared to be metabolised by cytochrome P450 and interactions with enzyme inducers or inhibitors could be anticipated. Some studies showed that interferons can reduce drug metabolism but only a few studies have evaluated the pathways involved. Further studies are required to better understand the clinical consequences of drug interactions with antiviral drugs. Drug-drug interactions should be considered in addition to individual drug clinical benefits and safety profiles.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Antiviral Agents / pharmacokinetics*
  • Antiviral Agents / therapeutic use
  • Drug Interactions
  • Drug Therapy, Combination
  • HIV Infections / drug therapy
  • HIV Infections / metabolism*
  • Humans


  • Antiviral Agents