Ritonavir use while Breastfeeding
Drugs containing Ritonavir: Kaletra, Norvir, Norvir Soft Gelatin, AccessPak for HIV PEP Expanded with Kaletra
Ritonavir Levels and Effects while Breastfeeding
Summary of Use during Lactation
In the United States and other developed countries, HIV-infected mothers should generally not breastfeed their infants. In countries in which no acceptable, feasible, sustainable and safe replacement feeding is available, exclusive breastfeeding for 6 months is recommended for HIV-infected mothers to reduce the risk of HIV transmission from the mother to the infant compared with mixed feeding. In these settings, abrupt weaning at 4 months does not reduce the risk of HIV transmission or produce an overall health benefit compared to continued breastfeeding, and increases the risk of infant death in HIV-infected infants. Ritonavir has been successfully used as part of a regimen that decreases mother-to-child transmission of HIV, usually in low doses as a boosting agent. Extended antiretroviral prophylaxis in breastfed infants with antiretroviral drugs appears to reduce the rate of HIV transmission during breastfeeding by about half, but the optimal regimen and duration of prophylaxis has not yet been defined. Breastfed infants whose mothers receive highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) have higher rates of neutropenia during the first month and severe anemia during the first 6 months of life.
Maternal Levels. One study measured ritonavir in breastmilk samples from nursing mothers who had been randomized to receive the drug as part of a clinical trial to evaluate maternal to child transmission of HIV infection. The dosages, dosage regimens and time of breastmilk sample collection times were not reported. Ritonavir was not detected in any of 60 breastmilk samples.
Nine mothers who were receiving lopinavir 400 mg plus ritonavir 100 mg twice daily as part of a combination antiretroviral regimen provided a total of 23 milk samples at birth, 1 month, 3 months and/or 6 months postpartum. Milk samples were collected at a median of 4.5 hours (range 3.5 to 6 hours) after the previous dose. The median breastmilk ritonavir concentration was 79 mcg/L (range 31 to 193 mcg/L).
Infant Levels. Breastfed infants of 9 mothers who were receiving lopinavir 400 mg plus ritonavir 100 mg twice daily as part of a combination antiretroviral regimen had a total of 6 blood samples analyzed at 1 month, 3 months and/or 6 months postpartum. Samples were collected at a median of 4.5 hours (range 3.5 to 6 hours) after the previous maternal dose and a median of 30 minutes (range 20 to 60 minutes) after the previous nursing. The infants' median ritonavir plasma concentrations was 7 mcg/L (range 0 to 138 mcg/L), which was a median of 12% (range 11 to 40%) of the maternal serum concentration.
Effects in Breastfed Infants
Relevant published information was not found as of the revision date.
Possible Effects on Lactation
Gynecomastia has been reported among men receiving highly active antiretroviral therapy. Gynecomastia is unilateral initially, but progresses to bilateral in about half of cases. No alterations in serum prolactin were noted and spontaneous resolution usually occurred within one year, even with continuation of the regimen. Some case reports and in vitro studies have suggested that protease inhibitors might cause hyperprolactinemia and galactorrhea in some male patients, although this has been disputed. The relevance of these findings to nursing mothers is not known. The prolactin level in a mother with established lactation may not affect her ability to breastfeed.
Alternate Drugs to Consider
1. World Health Organization. HIV and infant feeding: update. 2007. http://whqlibdoc.who.int/publications/2007/9789241595964_eng.pdf
2. Dao H, Mofenson LM, Ekpini R et al. International recommendations on antiretroviral drugs for treatment of HIV-infected women and prevention of mother-to-child HIV transmission in resource-limited settings: 2006 update. Am J Obstet Gynecol. 2007;197 (3 Suppl):S42-55. PMID: 17825650
3. Branson BM, Handsfield HH, Lampe MA et al. Revised recommendations for HIV testing of adults, adolescents, and pregnant women in health-care settings. MMWR Recomm Rep. 2006;55 (RR-14):1-17. PMID: 16988643
4. Kuhn L, Aldrovandi GM, Sinkala M et al. Effects of early, abrupt weaning on HIV-free survival of children in Zambia. N Engl J Med. 2008;359:130-41. PMID: 18525036
5. Slater M, Stringer EM, Stringer JS . Breastfeeding in HIV-positive women: what can be recommended? Paediatr Drugs. 2010;12:1-9. PMID: 20034337
6. Shapiro RL, Hughes MD, Ogwu A et al. Antiretroviral regimens in pregnancy and breast-feeding in Botswana. N Engl J Med. 2010;362:2282-94. PMID: 20554983
7. Meda N, Fao P, Ky-Zerbo O et al. Triple antiretroviral compared with zidovudine and single-nose nevirapine prophylaxis during pregnancy and breastfeeding for prevention of mother-to-child transmission of HIV-1 (Kesho Bora Study): a randomised controlled trial. Lancet Infect Dis. 2011;11:171-80. PMID: 21237718
8. Kumwenda NI, Hoover DR, Mofenson LM et al. Extended antiretroviral prophylaxis to reduce breast-milk HIV-1 transmission. N Engl J Med. 2008;359:119-29. PMID: 18525035
9. Mofenson LM. Antiretroviral prophylaxis to reduce breast milk transmission of HIV type 1: new data but still questions. J Acquir Immune Defic Syndr. 2008;48:237-40. PMID: 18545160
10. Bedri A, Gudetta B, Isehak A et al. Extended-dose nevirapine to 6 weeks of age for infants to prevent HIV transmission via breastfeeding in Ethiopia, India, and Uganda: an analysis of three randomised controlled trials. Lancet. 2008;372:300-13. PMID: 18657709
11. Chigwedere P, Seage GR, Lee TH, Essex M. Efficacy of antiretroviral drugs in reducing mother-to-child transmission of HIV in Africa: a meta-analysis of published clinical trials. AIDS Res Hum Retroviruses. 2008;24:827-37. PMID: 18544018
12. Rezk NL, White N, Bridges AS et al. Studies on antiretroviral drug concentrations in breast milk: validation of a liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometric method for the determination of 7 anti-human immunodeficiency virus medications. Ther Drug Monit. 2008;30:611-9. PMID: 18758393
13. Palombi L, Pirillo MF, Andreotti M et al. Antiretroviral prophylaxis for breastfeeding transmission in Malawi: drug concentrations, virological efficacy and safety. Antivir Ther. 2012;17:1511-9. PMID: 22910456
14. Garcia-Benayas T, Blanco F, Martin-Carbonero L et al. Gynecomastia in HIV-infected patients receiving antiretroviral therapy. AIDS Res Hum Retroviruses. 2003;19:739-41. PMID: 14585204
15. Pantanowitz L, Evans D, Gross PD, Dezube BJ. HIV-related gynecomastia. Breast J. 2003;9:131-2. PMID: 12603389
16. Evans DL, Pantanowitz L, Dezube BJ, Aboulafia DM. Breast enlargement in 13 men who were seropositive for human immunodeficiency virus. Clin Infect Dis. 2002;35:1113-9. PMID: 12384846
17. Hutchinson J, Murphy M, Harries R, Skinner CJ. Galactorrhoea and hyperprolactinaemia associated with protease-inhibitors. Lancet. 2000;356:1003-4. PMID: 11041407
18. Orlando G, Brunetti L, Vacca M. Ritonavir and saquinavir directly stimulate anterior pituitary prolactin secretion, in vitro. Int J Immunopathol Pharmacol. 2002;15:65-8. PMID: 12593790
19. Montero A, Bottasso OA, Luraghi MR et al. Galactorrhoea, hyperprolactinaemia, and protease inhibitors. Lancet. 2001;357:473-4; author reply 475. PMID: 11273087
CAS Registry Number
- Antiinfective Agents
- Anti-HIV Agents
- Antiviral Agents
- Anti-Retroviral Agents
- HIV Protease Inhibitors
LactMed Record Number
Information from the National Library of Medicine's LactMed Database.
Last Revision Date
Information presented in this database is not meant as a substitute for professional judgment. You should consult your healthcare provider for breastfeeding advice related to your particular situation. The U.S. government does not warrant or assume any liability or responsibility for the accuracy or completeness of the information on this Site.
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