DUTCH STUDY FINDS AIDS DRUGS MISUSED
Reuters 10 Sept. 2001
Chicago -- Only about half of HIV-infected patients in a
study published Sunday were found to be taking
their antiretroviral drugs according to directions, opening the way
to treatment failure and possible drug resistance.
Such drugs are prescribed on a complicated schedule, often requiring
multiple doses two to four times a day, sometimes with dietary
But the report, by Pythia T. Nieuwkerk and colleagues of the Academic
Medical Center, Amsterdam, the Netherlands, found that only 47% of
224 patients questioned during 1998 and 1999 reported that they took
all their anti-HIV drugs all the time as directed. Patients who
reported deviating from their prescribed regimens were also more
likely to have higher levels of the virus.
"The finding that a substantial number of patients did not succeed
in taking (the drugs) as prescribed illustrates the difficulty of
consistently taking antiretroviral medication according to all
requirements,'' said the report, published in the Sept. 10 issue of
the Archives of Internal Medicine.
"To date, it is not known what level of adherence to (the drugs) is
precisely needed to prevent viral rebound and the emergence of drug-
resistant virus variants,'' it added.
The researchers said the consequences of not following directions
will vary with the medications involved and urged doctors to consider
a patient's ability to follow the prescribed course when choosing
among various treatments.
The study said following instructions is essential in suppressing the
virus that causes AIDS (news - web sites) and in preventing the virus
from developing resistance to the drugs.
Because HIV-infected people could transmit a drug-resistant virus,
the matter has "significant public health implications,'' the report
The study was financed by the AIDS Fund, Amsterdam, and by a grant
from the Health Insurance Fund Council, Amstelveen, the Netherlands.