Journal Article

Adverse Reactions to Thalidomide in Patients Infected with Human Immunodeficiency Virus

Patrick Haslett, Jane Tramontana, Margaret Burroughs, Margaret Hempstead and Gilla Kaplan

in Clinical Infectious Diseases

Published on behalf of Infectious Diseases Society of America

Volume 24, issue 6, pages 1223-1227
Published in print June 1997 | ISSN: 1058-4838
Published online June 1997 | e-ISSN: 1537-6591 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1086/513665
Adverse Reactions to Thalidomide in Patients Infected with Human Immunodeficiency Virus

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Thalidomide is emerging as a useful agent in the management of several complications of disease due to human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). We conducted three prospective studies of 56 HIV-infected patients who were treated with thalidomide for 14–21 days; 24 (43%) of these patients discontinued therapy owing to adverse reactions. Cutaneous and/or febrile reactions were the most frequent toxicities, arising in 20 (36%) of the patients. These reactions occurred after a mean interval (±SD) of 10 ± 3 days and were associated with significantly lower CD4 T lymphocyte counts in reactors than in nonreactors (median count, 52.5/mm3 vs. 242 cells/mm3, respectively; P = .009). Four of four rechallenged patients experienced accelerated hypersensitivity; hypotension occurred in one case. Although sedation was an almost universal side effect among the patients, it was moderate or severe in only seven (13%); constipation was moderate or severe in five (9%) of the patients. Severe neuropathic symptoms and mood changes were each noted in two (4%) of the 56 patients. We conclude that the increasing use of thalidomide to treat HIV-infected patients must be accompanied by recognition of the drug's increased potential for toxicity in this population.

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Subjects: Infectious Diseases ; Immunology ; Public Health and Epidemiology ; Microbiology

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