Substantial anatomical and physiological changes occur during pregnancy and labour, which impact on drug absorption, distribution, metabolism and elimination. Reduced maternal concentrations may have a clinically important impact on the efficacy of anti-infectives for mother, fetus and neonate, with potential dosing implications. However, there is a paucity of pregnancy-specific data examining this. Existing data on the pharmacokinetics of anti-infectives in pregnancy are summarised and evaluated, with emphasis on agents that are used in treatment of HIV, TB, malaria and common bacterial infections. Limitations and challenges in achieving ideal study designs in pregnant populations are highlighted and key quality considerations for the generation of the highest quality evidence are outlined. PubMed was searched for each chosen anti-infective. Pharmacokinetic studies which either compared pharmacokinetics from pregnant women against non-pregnant controls, or which assessed concentrations against a known minimum inhibitory concentration were included. Two independent reviewers extracted data from each study and appraised them using the 24-point ClinPK Checklist. The main finding was the lack of published data for anti-infectives in pregnancy, despite their clinical importance. Of the studies identified, only those investigating cobicistat-boosted antiretroviral regimens firmly concluded that these should not be used in pregnancy. Most studies concluded either that further research was needed, or that there were significant pharmacokinetic differences between pregnant and non-pregnant participants which had uncertain clinical significance. Challenges in applying existing quality grading systems to these studies were noted, suggesting a development of a refined system for appraisal of pharmacokinetic studies in ‘special populations’ may be warranted.
About The Expert