OBJECTIVE: To discuss pharmacologic considerations for the development of antiviral agents. DATA SOURCES: English-language literature pertaining to the development and clinical evaluation of antiviral compounds, primarily agents targeted against herpes group viruses and HIV. STUDY SELECTION AND DATA EXTRACTION: Pertinent information, as judged by the author, was selected for discussion. DATA SYNTHESIS: Drug development of antiviral agents presents unique problems compared with that of antimicrobial and other agents. Understanding the mechanism of action and both pharmacokinetic and pharmacodynamic considerations is critical to developing a rational dosing strategy and safe, effective use. The lack of standardized methods for antiviral susceptibility testing and the influence of factors such as strain of virus, host cell type, culture medium, inoculum size, end point, and method of measurement on the results obtained illustrate factors that complicate preclinical pharmacologic analysis of antiviral agents. Acyclovir offers a model for clinical drug development. Its mechanism of action, pharmacokinetics, and pharmacodynamics have been studied extensively. Rational guidelines for usage are available, including guidelines in special patient populations such as kidney transplant recipients and neonates. A pregnancy registry has allowed evaluation of the incidence of birth defects in fetuses exposed to systemic acyclovir. Several pitfalls in antiviral drug development are associated with inadequate pharmacologic information. The development of dextran sulfate and fialuridine provides two examples. Integration of pharmacokinetic and pharmacodynamic analyses using modern sampling and analysis techniques may facilitate more rapid development of antiviral agents and more informed dosage regimens to achieve the highest probability of therapeutic success. CONCLUSIONS: Insufficient knowledge of the pharmacokinetic and pharmacodynamic characteristics of an antiviral agent is a barrier to efficient drug development. Application and early integration of pharmacologic information into clinical investigations hold promise as a means to shorten the development process and, more importantly, to arrive at informative dosing regimens that optimize therapeutic success.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Pharmacology (medical)