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Clin Ther. 2003 May;25(5):1321-81.


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Pharmacy Service, Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Bronx, New York 10468, USA.



Reports of resistance and intolerance to currently available antifungal agents are increasing. Voriconazole is a broad-spectrum azole antifungal agent structurally derived from fluconazole. It is indicated for the treatment of invasive aspergillosis and serious fungal infections caused by Scedosporium apiospermum and Fusarium species in patients who are unable to tolerate or are refractory to other antifungal therapy.


This article reviews the pharmacologic and pharmacokinetic properties and clinical usefulness of voriconazole.


Relevant information was identified through a search of MEDLINE (1966-December 2002), Iowa Drug Information Service (1966-December 2002), International Pharmaceutical Abstracts (1970-December 2002), and meeting abstracts of the Infectious Diseases Society of America (1996-2002) and the Interscience Conference on Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy (1996-2002) using the terms voriconazole and UK-109,495.


In head-to-head comparative trials, voriconazole appeared to be as efficacious as amphotericin B for the treatment of invasive aspergillosis and the empiric treatment of fungal infections in patients with febrile neutropenia. In clinical studies, it was as efficacious as fluconazole for the treatment of oropharyngeal and esophageal candidiasis. The results of in vitro susceptibility studies and case reports suggested that voriconazole may be useful against fluconazole- and/or itraconazole-resistant strains of Candida. Although voriconazole may be associated with a lower incidence of serious systemic adverse effects compared with amphotericin B (13.4% vs 24.3% in 1 pivotal clinical study; P = NS), major adverse effects associated with voriconazole include visual abnormalities ( approximately 30%), skin reactions ( approximately 20%), and elevations in hepatic enzymes (< or =20%). Voriconazole is available as oral and intravenous formulations. Pharmacokinetically, it has widespread distribution, including penetration into cerebral tissue. However, as 80% of voriconazole is hepatically eliminated, primarily via the cytochrome P450 (CYP) isozymes CYP2C19, CYP3A4, and CYP2C9, voriconazole has a high potential for drug interactions, and dose reduction is recommended in patients with mild to moderate hepatic dysfunction (Child-Pugh class A or B). Oral voriconazole may be preferred in patients with a creatinine clearance <50 mL/min due to the potential accumulation of the solubilizing excipient in the parenteral formulation of voriconazole.


Voriconazole appears to be a useful alternative to conventional antifungal agents in cases of resistance or intolerance to initial therapy. However, dose adjustment is recommended in patients with hepatic dysfunction, as well as in those receiving medications that may interact with voriconazole via hepatic metabolism.

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