While preexposure prophylaxis with oral tenofovir/emtricitabine reduces HIV acquisition rates, poor adherence to and acceptability of vaginal gels and the potential for evolving drug resistance have led to development of vaginal film formulations and other antiretroviral drugs, respectively, including the non-nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitor dapivirine.
In this two-arm crossover study of a novel fast-dissolving dapivirine film and a previously studied semisolid dapivirine gel, 10 healthy women received a single 1.25 mg vaginal dose of each study product; one withdrew after the first dose. Clinical, pharmacokinetic, and antiviral pharmacodynamic assessments (ex vivo HIV-BaL challenge of tissue explants) were performed over 168 h postdose.
Six of ten participants experienced mild to moderate adverse effects, similar between products, with no severe adverse events or adverse events attributed to study products. There were no statistically significant differences in plasma, cervicovaginal fluid (CVF), or cervical tissue dapivirine concentrations between the gel and film (all p > .05). CVF dapivirine concentrations were 1.5 and 6 log10 greater than tissue and plasma concentrations, respectively (p < .001). Both film and gel demonstrated reduced cervical tissue infectivity after ex vivo HIV challenge 5 h postdose, compared to baseline and 72-h postdose biopsies (p < .05 for gel, p = .06 for film). There was no difference in ex vivo explant HIV challenge between gel and film. CONCLUSION
The dapivirine film and gel performed similarly in terms of tolerability, pharmacokinetics, and antiviral effect. Dapivirine film may provide an alternative to pharmacokinetically comparable dapivirine gel formulations. Effectiveness remains to be tested.