Pharmacokinetics of dose-adjusted levonorgestrel emergency contraception combined with efavirenz-based antiretroviral therapy or rifampicin-containing tuberculosis regimens

AIDS Clinical Trials Group A5375 Study Team

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Objectives: To determine if double-dose levonorgestrel emergency contraception (EC) in combination with efavirenz or rifampicin, 2 drugs known to decrease levonorgestrel exposure, resulted in similar pharmacokinetics compared to standard-dose levonorgestrel EC without drug-drug interactions. Study Design: We conducted a phase 2, open-label, multicenter, partially randomized, 4 parallel group trial in pre-menopausal females ≥16 years old without an indication for EC and not on hormonal contraception. Participants on dolutegravir-based antiretroviral therapy (ART) received levonorgestrel 1.5 mg (control group); those on rifampicin-containing tuberculosis therapy received levonorgestrel 3 mg; those on efavirenz-based ART were randomized 1:2 to levonorgestrel 1.5 mg or 3 mg. Plasma was collected through 48 hours post-dose to assess levonorgestrel pharmacokinetics. Area under the concentration-time curve (AUC) over 8 hours was the primary outcome. Levonorgestrel pharmacokinetic parameters were compared between groups using geometric mean ratios (GMR) with 90% confidence intervals. Results: The median (Q1, Q3) age for all participants (n = 118) was 34 (27, 41) years and BMI was 23.2 (20, 26.3) kg/m2. Participants receiving levonorgestrel 1.5mg plus efavirenz (n = 17) had 50% lower AUC0-8h compared to the control group (n = 32) [0.50 (0.40, 0.62)]. Participants receiving levonorgestrel 3 mg had a similar AUC0-8h when receiving either efavirenz (n = 35) [0.99 (0.81, 1.20)] or rifampicin (n = 34) [1.16 (0.99, 1.36)] compared to control. Levonorgestrel 3 mg resulted in similar or higher maximum concentration with either efavirenz [1.17 (0.96, 1.41)] or rifampicin [1.27 (1.09, 1.49)] compared to the control group. Conclusions: Doubling the dose of levonorgestrel EC successfully increased levonorgestrel exposure over the first 8 hours in participants receiving either efavirenz-based ART or rifampicin-containing tuberculosis therapy. Implications: Adjusting levonorgestrel emergency contraception from 1.5 mg to 3 mg improves levonorgestrel pharmacokinetic exposure in participants receiving either efavirenz-based antiretroviral regimens or rifampicin-containing tuberculosis therapy. These data support guideline recommendations to double the dose of levonorgestrel emergency contraception in persons on medications that decrease levonorgestrel exposure by inducing levonorgestrel metabolism.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number109951
StatePublished - May 2023


  • Drug interaction
  • Efavirenz
  • Emergency contraception
  • Pharmacokinetics
  • Rifampicin

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Reproductive Medicine
  • Obstetrics and Gynecology


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