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The incidence of invasive fungal infections (IFIs) caused by opportunistic filamentous molds is increasing, along with emerging fungal resistance. Posaconazole, a structural analogue of itraconazole that was approved for marketing in the United States in 2006, appears to be a promising antifungal agent. This article provides an overview of the pharmacology, efficacy, and tolerability of posaconazole when used for the prophylaxis and treatment of various common and rare fungal infections. Relevant information was identified through a search of MEDLINE (1966-April 2007), International Pharmaceutical Abstracts (1970-April 2007), and abstracts of the Interscience Conference on Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy using the terms posaconazole and SCH 56592. Additional resources were found by searching the reference lists of the identified articles and the US Food and Drug Administration Web site. Posaconazole is available as an oral suspension. It is highly distributed to various sites, including bone, the central nervous system, and eye tissue. Its Vd is 2447 L when administered in multiple daily doses (up to 800 mg/d) in the presence of a high-fat meal. Because it is excreted mostly as unchanged drug in the feces (77%), posaconazole can be administered to patients with poor renal function without any dose adjustment. Posaconazole has shown in vitro and in vivo activity against a wide variety of fungi, including those that are rare and relatively resistant. Two clinical trials have compared posaconazole with fluconazole or itraconazole for the prophylaxis of IFIs in immunocompromised patients. The first, a randomized, double-blind trial in 600 recipients of hematopoietic stem cell transplants, found that overall rates of IFI did not differ significantly between posaconazole and fluconazole (5% vs 9%, respectively). The other, a randomized, open-label trial in 602 neutropenic patients, reported significantly fewer IFIs in patients receiving posaconazole compared with those receiving fluconazole or itraconazole (>2% vs >8%, respectively; P = 0.001). An additional 2 trials have investigated posaconazole for the treatment of oropharyngeal candidiasis (OPC) in patients with HIV infection. A randomized, controlled, evaluator-blinded study in 350 HIV-infected patients with OPC found similar 14-day clinical success rates with posaconazole and fluconazole (91.7% and 92.5%, respectively; 95% CI, -6.6l to 5.04), whereas an open-label study in 176 HIV-infected patients with a history of refractory OPC reported a 28-day clinical success rate of 75%. Numerous small studies and case reports have described successful posaconazole treatment of zygomycosis, aspergillosis, fusariosis, endemic dimorphic fungal infection, and superficial and subcutaneous fungal infections that were refractory to conventional antifungal agents or in patients who were unable to tolerate these agents. Posaconazole has been well tolerated. The most common complaints have been gastrointestinal in nature, including nausea (7%-8%) and diarrhea (3%-11%), although these have rarely led to permanent discontinuation of therapy. Other common adverse effects have included vomiting (4%-7%), headache (2%-8%), and liver enzyme elevations (2%-3%). Posaconazole suspension administered at up to 800 mg/d is a reasonable alternative to conventional antifungal agents for the prevention and treatment of IFIs in high-risk populations. It may also be suitable in patients with infections caused by rare or relatively resistant fungi, and those who are unable to tolerate long-term therapy with other antifungal agents.


Daryl S Schiller, Horatio B Fung. Posaconazole: an extended-spectrum triazole antifungal agent. Clinical therapeutics. 2007 Sep;29(9):1862-86

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PMID: 18035188

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