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PLoS Med. 2018 Nov 8;15(11):e1002690. doi: 10.1371/journal.pmed.1002690. eCollection 2018 Nov.

Safety, tolerability, and pharmacokinetics of long-acting injectable cabotegravir in low-risk HIV-uninfected individuals: HPTN 077, a phase 2a randomized controlled trial.

Author information

UCLA Center for Clinical AIDS Research and Education, Los Angeles, California, United States of America.
Statistical Center for HIV/AIDS Research and Prevention, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, Seattle, Washington, United States of America.
Evandro Chagas National Institute of Infectious Diseases, Oswaldo Cruz Foundation, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
Centre for the AIDS Programme of Research in South Africa, University of KwaZulu Natal, Durban, South Africa.
Bridge HIV, Population Health Division, San Francisco Department of Health, San Francisco, California, United States of America.
Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, Milken Institute School of Public Health, George Washington University, Washington, District of Columbia, United States of America.
UNC Project-Malawi, Lilongwe, Malawi.
Perinatal HIV Research Unit, Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital, Soweto, South Africa.
School of Medicine, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, Maryland, United States of America.
FHI360, Durham, North Carolina, United States of America.
Berman Institute of Bioethics, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, Maryland, United States of America.
Division of AIDS, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, National Institutes of Health, Rockville, Maryland, United States of America.
ViiV Healthcare, Durham, North Carolina, United States of America.
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, North Carolina, United States of America.



Cabotegravir (CAB) is a novel strand-transfer integrase inhibitor being developed for HIV treatment and prevention. CAB is formulated both as an immediate-release oral tablet for daily administration and as a long-acting injectable suspension (long-acting CAB [CAB LA]) for intramuscular (IM) administration, which delivers prolonged plasma exposure to the drug after IM injection. HIV Prevention Trials Network study 077 (HPTN 077) evaluated the safety, tolerability, and pharmacokinetics of CAB LA in HIV-uninfected males and females at 8 sites in Brazil, Malawi, South Africa, and the United States.


HPTN 077 was a double-blind, placebo-controlled phase 2a trial. Healthy individuals age 18-65 years at low HIV risk were randomized (3:1) to receive CAB or placebo (PBO). In the initial oral phase, participants received 1 daily oral tablet (CAB or PBO) for 4 weeks. Those without safety concerns in the oral phase continued and received injections in the injection phase (Cohort 1: 3 injections of CAB LA 800 mg or 0.9% saline as PBO IM every 12 weeks for 3 injection cycles; Cohort 2: CAB LA 600 mg or PBO IM for 5 injection cycles; the first 2 injections in Cohort 2 were separated by 4 weeks, the rest by 8 weeks). The primary analysis included weeks 5 to 41 of study participation, encompassing the injection phase. The cohorts were enrolled sequentially. Primary outcomes were safety and tolerability. Secondary outcomes included pharmacokinetics and events occurring during the oral and injection phases. Between February 9, 2015, and May 27, 2016, the study screened 443 individuals and enrolled 110 participants in Cohort 1 and 89 eligible participants in Cohort 2. Participant population characteristics were as follows: 66% female at birth; median age 31 years; 27% non-Hispanic white, 41% non-Hispanic black, 24% Hispanic/Latino, 3% Asian, and 6% mixed/other; and 6 transgender men and 1 transgender woman. Twenty-two (11%) participants discontinued the oral study product; 6 of these were for clinical or laboratory adverse events (AEs). Of those who received at least 1 CAB LA injection, 80% of Cohort 1 and 92% of Cohort 2 participants completed all injections; injection course completion rates were not different from those in the PBO arm. Injection site reactions (ISRs) were common (92% of Cohort 1 and 88% of Cohort 2 participants who received CAB LA reported any ISR). ISRs were mostly Grade 1 (mild) to Grade 2 (moderate), and 1 ISR event (Cohort 1) led to product discontinuation. Grade 2 or higher ISRs were the only AEs reported more commonly among CAB LA recipients than PBO recipients. Two Grade 3 (severe) ISRs occurred in CAB recipients, 1 in each cohort, but did not lead to product discontinuation in either case. Seven incident sexually transmitted infections were diagnosed in 6 participants. One HIV infection occurred in a participant 48 weeks after last injection of CAB LA: CAB was not detectable in plasma both at the time of first reactive HIV test and at the study visit 12 weeks prior to the first reactive test. Participants in Cohort 2 (unlike Cohort 1) consistently met prespecified pharmacokinetic targets of at least 95% of participants maintaining CAB trough concentrations above PA-IC90, and 80% maintaining trough concentrations above 4× PA-IC90. Study limitations include a modest sample size, a short course of injections, and a low-risk study population.


In this study, CAB LA was well tolerated at the doses and dosing intervals used. ISRs were common, but infrequently led to product discontinuation. CAB LA 600 mg every 8 weeks met pharmacokinetic targets for both male and female study participants. The safety and pharmacokinetic results observed support the further development of CAB LA, and efficacy studies of CAB LA for HIV treatment and prevention are in progress.

TRIAL REGISTRATION: Registry: Trial number: NCT02178800.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

Conflict of interest statement

RJL has received study medication, consulting fees and travel support from Gilead Sciences. He has received consulting fees and travel support from Merck, Inc. HD has received honoraria from Pfizer-South Africa, Novartis-South Africa, MSD-South Africa and Adcock Ingram for speaking engagements and has received travel support from Mylan-South Africa, Novartis-South Africa and Aspen-South Africa. AYL received research grants from NIH and has led studies in which study drug was donated by Gilead Sciences. DM and ARR are paid employees of ViiV Healthcare. WRS is a paid employee of ViiV Healthcare with stock in ViiV Healthcare and GlaxoSmithKline. CWH has research contracts with ViiV/GlaxoSmithKline and the NIH through Johns Hopkins and the University of Washington. MAM received grant support through the NIH, and received grant support through ViiV/GSK on work external to this study. JS is a member of Merck KGaA's Bioethics Advisory Panel and Stem Cell Research Oversight Committee; and he is a member of IQVIA's (formerly Quintiles) Ethics Advisory Panel. JJE is a consultant to Merck, Gilead Sciences, Janssen, and ViiV Healthcare; and he is an investigator on research contracts from ViiV Healthcare, Janssen, and Gilead Sciences.

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