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Drugs. 1992 Jul;44(1):94-116.

Didanosine. A review of its antiviral activity, pharmacokinetic properties and therapeutic potential in human immunodeficiency virus infection.

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  • 1Adis International Limited, Auckland, New Zealand.


Didanosine is a dideoxynucleoside analogue which undergoes intracellular conversion to the putative active triphosphate metabolite. The active metabolite appears to inhibit viral reverse transcriptase and terminate the proviral DNA, and produces virustatic inhibition of actively replicating human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) at clinically relevant concentrations. In phase I studies didanosine had beneficial effects on various surrogate markers of clinical efficacy and also improved clinical manifestations of HIV infection, with a 21-month survival rate of 80% in patients with acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS) and 93% in patients with AIDS-related complex (ARC) in 1 study. Didanosine also improved CD4+ cell counts in a phase II/III trial in patients previously treated with zidovudine, whereas cell counts declined in patients continuing zidovudine therapy. However, the effects of didanosine on clinical end-points (disease progression, survival, HIV encephalopathy) remain to be established. Peripheral neuropathy and pancreatitis are the predominant dose-limiting adverse events and didanosine therapy should be withdrawn in patients developing signs or symptoms of pancreatitis and during acute treatment of Pneumocystis carinii pneumonia. However, at currently recommended clinical dosages didanosine is generally well tolerated with minimal haematological toxicity. Thus, in a therapeutic area with few treatment options, didanosine offers a welcome alternative for patients intolerant of, or resistant to, zidovudine. There are a number of clinical trials in progress evaluating didanosine alone or in combination with other antiviral agents, and these results are awaited with considerable interest.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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