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A prospective randomized trial comparing the toxicity and safety of atovaquone with trimethoprim/sulfamethoxazole as Pneumocystis carinii pneumonia prophylaxis following autologous peripheral blood stem cell transplantation.

Author(s): Colby C, McAfee S, Sackstein R, Finkelstein D, Fishman J, Spitzer T

Affiliation(s): Bone Marrow Transplant Program, Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA 02114, USA.

Publication date & source: 1999-10, Bone Marrow Transplant., 24(8):897-902.

Publication type: Clinical Trial; Randomized Controlled Trial

Pneumonia due to Pneumocystis carinii is an infrequent complication following autologous stem cell transplantation (ASCT) which is associated with a high mortality. Although administration of trimethoprim/sulfa- methoxazole (TMP/SMX) is an effective prophylactic strategy for Pneumocystis carinii pneumonia (PCP), treatment-associated toxicity frequently results in discontinuation of therapy. We have conducted a prospective randomized trial comparing atovaquone, a new anti-Pneumocystis agent, with TMP/SMX for PCP prophylaxis following autologous peripheral blood stem cell (PBSC) transplantation. Thirty-nine patients were studied. Twenty patients received atovaquone suspension and 19 patients received TMP/SMX. The median ages were 44 (range 20-68) and 47 (range 32-63) years, respectively. A similar number of patients with solid tumors (14 vs 15) and hematologic malignancies (five vs five) were treated in each group. Either TMP/SMX (160/800 mg) or atovaquone (1500 mg) was administered daily from transplant day -5 until day -1, discontinued from day 0 to engraftment, then resumed 3 days per week until day +100 post-transplant. The median time to engraftment (ANC >0.5 x 109/l) was similar in both groups. Eighty percent of the patients randomized to atovaquone prophylaxis completed the study. Four atovaquone-treated patients were removed from study; two patients (10%) did not receive a transplant and two patients (10%) were removed due to a protocol violation. None of the 16 patients treated with atovaquone experienced treatment-associated adverse effects. Of the 19 patients randomized to receive TMP/SMX, 55% completed the study. Nine TMP/SMX-treated patients were removed from the study; one patient (5%) did not receive a transplant and eight patients (40%) were removed due to drug intolerance (P < 0.003). The rate of intolerance to TMP/SMX led to the early discontinuation of this randomized trial. Intolerance of TMP/SMX included elevated transaminase levels (n = 1), nausea or vomiting (n = 3), thrombocytopenia (n = 2) and neutropenia (n = 2). All episodes of TMP/SMP intolerance occurred following transplantation after a median duration of 17.5 (range 2-48) days and a median of 7 (range 1-20) doses. Resolution of adverse side-effects occurred in all eight patients within a median of 7 (range 2-20) days following discontinuation of therapy. Neither PCP nor bacterial infections were identified in any of the patients treated. This prospective randomized study demonstrated that atovaquone is well-tolerated for anti-Pneumocystis prophylaxis in autologous PBSC transplant patients intolerant of TMP/SMX.

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