Effect of double-dose levonorgestrel subdermal implant in women taking efavirenz-based antiretroviral therapy: The DoubLNG pharmacokinetic study

Lauren R. Cirrincione, Shadia Nakalema, Catherine A. Chappell, Pauline Byakika-Kibwika, Isabella Kyohairwe, Lee Winchester, Hope Mackline, Michelle M. Pham, Susan E. Cohn, Marco Siccardi, Andrew Owen, Courtney V. Fletcher, Mohammed Lamorde, Kimberly K. Scarsi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Objective: We evaluated the pharmacokinetics of double-dose levonorgestrel (LNG) implants to overcome the drug–drug interaction with efavirenz-based antiretroviral therapy (ART). Study design: We conducted a nonrandomized, open-label, parallel-group, longitudinal pharmacokinetic study among Ugandan women ages 18–45 years. Participants with HIV on ART containing efavirenz 600 mg received 300 mg of LNG implants (Jadelle®, Bayer, New Zealand): 300LNG+ART group. We compared our outcomes with women without HIV using standard dose, 150 mg of LNG implants: 150LNG group. The implant was placed on day zero in both groups, and we quantified plasma LNG concentrations over 48 weeks post implant insertion. LNG pharmacokinetic parameters were estimated using noncompartmental techniques. Our primary outcome was the geometric mean ratio with 90% confidence intervals of LNG area under the concentration–time curve over 24 weeks (AUC0–24w) between groups. Demographic data were described as median (interquartile range). A secondary outcome compared between-group percent of LNG concentrations ≥300 pg/mL, a minimum threshold selected a priori based on observed pregnancies in Ugandan women on standard-dose LNG implants plus efavirenz. Results: We enrolled 27 women in the 300LNG+ART group (34 [28.0 to 40.5] years and 61.0 [49.8–66.0] kg) and 19 women in the 150LNG group (33 [30.0 to 34.5] years and 64.9 [59.0 to 74.5] kg). LNG AUC0–24w was 34% lower for 300LNG+ART versus 150LNG (geometric mean 9998 vs. 15,231 pg*week/mL, respectively [geometric mean ratio 0.66 (90% confidence intervals, 0.54 to 0.80)]). The percentage of participants with LNG concentrations ≥300 pg/mL was not statistically different between groups at week 24 (300LNG+ART: 74.1%; 150LNG: 89.5%; p = 0.27). Conclusion: Double-dose LNG implant did not completely overcome the drug–drug interaction with efavirenz. Implication: In women using ART containing efavirenz, placing two implant systems (300 mg) did not normalize LNG pharmacokinetics compared with the standard-dose implant (150 mg), and some women had evidence of ovulatory activity. Alternative ART without drug–drug interactions, such as dolutegravir, is recommended with contraceptive implants.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number109975
StatePublished - Jun 2023


  • Drug interactions
  • Efavirenz
  • HIV
  • Levonorgestrel
  • Long-acting reversible contraceptives
  • Pharmacokinetics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Reproductive Medicine
  • Obstetrics and Gynecology


Dive into the research topics of 'Effect of double-dose levonorgestrel subdermal implant in women taking efavirenz-based antiretroviral therapy: The DoubLNG pharmacokinetic study'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this