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Drug Safety

Antiretroviral treatment linked to suicide


Source: Stokkete /

Patients taking efavirenz should be monitored for signs of depression or evidence of suicidal behaviour.

Patients who take the antiretroviral efavirenz as part of an initial treatment for HIV-1 infection are twice as likely to experience suicidal thoughts, to attempt suicide or to take their lives, as those not taking the medicine, an analysis of clinical trial data published in the Annals of Internal Medicine has shown[2].

The study, which included 5,332 adults in four clinical trials, suggests that patients’ psychiatric history should be taken into consideration when choosing antiretroviral therapy and that those prescribed efavirenz should be carefully monitored for signs of depression or evidence of suicidal thoughts or behaviour.

Efavirenz, a non-nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitor, is recommended as part of a highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) regimen for the treatment of HIV-1 infection and is associated with side effects on the central nervous system.




Citation: The Pharmaceutical Journal DOI: 10.1211/PJ.2014.20065675

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