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Usefulness of methadone plasma concentration measurement in patients receiving nevirapine or efavirenz.
American Journal of Drug and Alcohol Abuse
Publication types: Journal ArticlePublication Status: ppublish
Objective: To determine methadone plasma trough and peak concentrations in patients presenting opiate withdrawal symptoms after introduction of nevirapine or efavirenz. To describe the disappearance of these symptoms after methadone titration based on plasma concentrations rather than on the symptoms. Methods: Nine patients undergoing highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) and either nevirapine or efavirenz treatment were monitored daily for opiate withdrawal in a specialized drug addiction center. Methadone dose was titrated daily, and plasma concentrations were measured. The data are retrospective (case series). Results: Several patients complained of symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, accelerated intestinal transit, or insomnia. Even after methadone titration based on clinical symptoms, patients and health-care providers trained in infectious disease did not classify these as withdrawal symptoms and considered them as the side effects of HAART or anxiety. Methadone plasma trough concentration showed low levels of (R)- and (R,S)-methadone. Further methadone dose adjustment according to plasma level resulted in the disappearance of these withdrawal symptoms. The daily methadone dose was split when the peak/trough (R)-methadone ratio was more than 2. Conclusions: When introducing efavirenz or nevirapine to patients undergoing methadone treatment, withdrawal symptoms should be monitored, especially those such as insomnia, vomiting, or nausea. Methadone plasma trough and peak measurements can be of value in preventing unnecessary side effects of HAART.
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