Unanticipated effects of new drug availability on antiretroviral durability: Implications for comparative effectiveness research

Academic Article


  • Background. Durability of antiretroviral (ARV) therapy is associated with improved human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) outcomes. Data on ARV regimen durability in recent years and clinical settings are lacking.Methods. This retrospective follow-up study included treatment-naive HIV-infected patients initiating ARV therapy between January 2007 and December 2012 in a university-affiliated HIV clinic in the Southeastern United States. Outcome of interest was durability (time to discontinuation) of the initial regimen. Durability was evaluated using Kaplan-Meier survival analyses. Cox proportional hazard analyses was used to evaluate the association among durability and sociodemographic, clinical, and regimen-level factors.Results. Overall, 546 patients were analyzed. Median durability of all regimens was 39.5 months (95% confidence interval, 34.1-44.4). Commonly prescribed regimens were emtricitabine and tenofovir with efavirenz (51%; median duration = 40.1 months) and with raltegravir (14%; 47.8 months). Overall, 67% of patients had an undetectable viral load at the time of regimen cessation. Discontinuation was less likely with an integrase strand transfer inhibitor (adjusted hazards ratio [aHR] = 0.35, P = .001) or protease inhibitor-based regimen (aHR = 0.45, P = .006) and more likely with a higher pill burden (aHR = 2.25, P = .003) and a later treatment era (aHR = 1.64, P < .001).Conclusions. Initial ARV regimen longevity declined in recent years contemporaneous with the availability of several new ARV drugs and combinations. Reduced durability mostly results from a preference for newly approved regimens rather than indicating failing therapy, as indicated by viral suppression observed in a majority of patients (67%) prior to regimen cessation. Durability is influenced by extrinsic factors including new drug availability and provider preference. Medication durability must be interpreted carefully in the context of a dynamic treatment landscape.
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    Author List

  • Eaton EF; Tamhane AR; Burkholder GA; Willig JH; Saag MS; Mugavero MJ
  • Volume

  • 3
  • Issue

  • 2