Drug policy for visceral leishmaniasis: a cost-effectiveness analysis.
Organic pentavalent antimonials are one of the mainstays of treatment for visceral leishmaniasis (VL). Few data are available on the toxicity and efficacy of these drugs at the dosing schedule recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) (Atlanta, GA). We analyzed 25 VL episodes in human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)-infected patients who were treated with meglumine antimoniate (MA) at the CDC-recommended dose in southern Spain. Adverse effects were observed in 14 (56%) VL episodes. In 7 (28%), treatment with MA was permanently discontinued due to serious adverse effects that included acute pancreatitis, acute renal failure, and leukopenia. Three (12%) patients died during therapy due to severe acute pancreatitis attributable to MA. The dosing regimen of MA currently recommended for treating VL is associated with a high rate of serious side effects in HIV-1-infected patients.