Nevirapine extended-release tablet (Viramune XRTM)

March 2012

VA Pharmacy Benefits Management Services,
Medical Advisory Panel, and VISN Pharmacist Executives

The purpose of VA PBM Services drug monographs is to provide a comprehensive drug review for making formulary decisions. These documents will be updated when new clinical data warrant additional formulary discussion. Documents will be placed in the Archive section when the information is deemed to be no longer current.

Executive Summary

  • Nevirapine extended-release tablets  are a once-daily formulation that recently received FDA approval for combination antiretroviral treatment of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)-1 infection in adults.1
  • Nevirapine extended-release 400mg tablets dosed once daily demonstrated comparable bioavailability to the immediate-release 200mg dosed twice daily.2
  • Two Phase III, noninferiority clinical trials were conducted to evaluate the efficacy and safety of nevirapine extended-release tablets in the treatment of HIV-1.3-4 One of the clinical trials determined the non-inferiority of nevirapine extended-release tablets compared to the immediate-release formulation in treatment-naïve HIV-1 infected patients, whereas the second demonstrated the efficacy and safety in transitioning patients previously on the immediate-release formulation to the extended-release formulation.
  • The most common adverse events associated with nevirapine extended–release tablets are rash and clinical hepatitis. The most severe adverse reactions include hepatotoxicity and skin reactions.1,3-4


The purposes of this monograph are to (1) evaluate the available evidence of safety, tolerability, efficacy, cost, and other pharmaceutical issues that would be relevant to evaluating nevirapine extended-release tablets for possible addition to the VA National Formulary; (2) define its role in therapy; and (3) identify parameters for its rational use in the VA.


Nevirapine displays activity against HIV-1 but does not inhibit HIV-2 or eukaryotic DNA polymerases. It is classified as a non-nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitor. Inhibition of HIV-1 relies on direct binding to the HIV-1 reverse transcriptase and subsequent blockade of RNA-dependent and DNA-dependent DNA polymerase activities.1

The extended-release tablet was studied as a single dose in 17 healthy volunteers displaying a bioavailability of approximately 75% when compared to the immediate-release formulation.1  A phase Ib, open-label, non-randomized-sequence, parallel-group trial was conducted with four formulations of the extended-release formulation. Pharmacokinetic parameters for the currently available extended- and immediate-release tablets are listed in Table 1; the bioavailability of the extended- and immediate-release tablets was comparable in the fasted and fed conditions, 80 vs. 94%, respectively.2

Table 1 Pharmacokinetics of nevirapine extended-release tablet1,2

Mean Pharmacokinetic ValuesXR (n=24)  IR (n=24)
AUC0-24,ss (µgµh/mL) 82103
Cmin,ss (µg/mL)2.923.24
Cmax,ss (µg/mL)4.145.95
tmax (hr)6.711.74

Table adapted from ref 2.

FDA Approved Indication1

Nevirapine extended-release tablets are indicated for the combination antiretroviral treatment of HIV-1 infections in adults.1

The prescribing information states that initiation of treatment is not recommended for the following patients unless benefits outweigh risks1,5:

  • Adult females with CD4+ cell counts greater than 250 cells/mm3
  • Adult males with CD4+ cell counts greater than 400 cells/mm3

The Department of Health and Human Services HIV-1 treatment guidelines recommend nevirapine as an acceptable antiretroviral treatment component for treatment-naïve patients in accordance with the aforementioned CD4+ recommendations.   No preference to either immediate- or extended-release formulation is provided within the guidelines.5

Current VA National Formulary Alternatives

Nevirapine 200mg immediate-release tablets

Dosage and Administration1

The recommended dosing schedule includes recommendations for patients who are either nevirapine treatment naïve or being switched from the immediate-release to the extended-release formulation. 

  • For treatment-naïve patients, the initiation of therapy requires administration of one 200mg immediate-release tablet once daily for 14 days followed by one 400mg extended-release tablet once daily.  If rash occurs and persists beyond 14-day lead-in period, the patient should not be administered the extended-release tablet and the immediate-release tablet should not be continued beyond 28 days. The lead-in period is a strict requirement and has demonstrated reduction in the frequency of rash.
  • Patients switching from the immediate-release to the extended-release may be switched directly from the 200mg immediate-release tablet twice daily to the 400 mg extended-release tablet once daily.1

No dose adjustment is required for patients with CrCl greater than or equal to 20 ml/min.  For patients on chronic hemodialysis, a supplemental dose of 200 mg nevirapine immediate-release should be administered following each dialysis session.1

The tablet must be swallowed whole and not be chewed, crushed, or divided. The patient may administer the tablet without regard to meals.1 Patient must never administer more than one formulation of nevirapine concomittantly.1


The FDA approval of nevirapine extended-release was based on two Phase III clinical trials. The first study, VERxVE, demonstrated that nevirapine extended-release was noninferior to the immediate-release formulation for treatment-naïve HIV-1 patients. The second randomized, open-label, parallel-group study, TRANxITION, demonstrated non-inferiority upon switching from the immediate-release to the extended-release formulation in virologically suppressed HIV-1 infected individuals. Taken together, these studies demonstrate equivalent efficacy of both formulations for treatment-naïve and virologically suppressed patients.

Treatment-naïve patients 1, 3

The efficacy and safety of nevirapine extended-release tablets were compared to nevirapine immediate-release tablets for the treatment of treatment-naïve HIV-1 infected patients.  The trial design was a Phase III, randomized, double-blind, double-dummy, parallel group study of patients with CD4+ counts of >50 to <400 cells/mm3 for males and >50 to <250 cells/mm3 for females. All patients received a 14 day lead-in of nevirapine immediate-release 200 mg tablet daily.  Patients then were randomized in 1:1 fashion to receive either extended-release 400 mg tablet daily (n=505) or the immediate-release tablet 200 mg twice daily (n=506) in combination with tenofovir/emtricitabine. The primary endpoint was sustained virological response at week 48; the primary end point was achieved in 404/505 (80%) vs. 379/506 (75%) patients for the extended- and immediate-release formulation, respectively. Therefore, the extended-release formulation demonstrated noninferiority to the immediate-release formulation as part of combination therapy for treatment-naïve HIV-1 infected individuals.

Transition from immediate-release to extended-release tablets in virologically suppressed patients1, 4

The safety and antiviral activity of nevirapine extended-release tablets were tested in the TRANxITION trial to determine the utility of switching from the immediate- to extended-release tablets in previously virologically suppressed HIV-1 infected patients. The trial was designed as a Phase IIIb, multinational, open-label, parallel-group, noninferiority, randomized trial.  Patients were included if they had an undetectable viral load 1-4 months prior to screening on fixed dose nevirapine immediate-release tablets (at least 18 weeks prior to randomization).  Patients were randomized to either switch to the extended-release 400 tablet once daily (n=295) or continue the immediate-release tablet 200 mg twice daily (n=148) in a 2:1 fashion. Patients were included if they were on background therapy of combination lamivudine/abacavir, tenofovir/emtricitabine, lamivudine/zidovudine, or their individual components. The primary endpoint was the proportion of patients with continued virologic response at week 24. Continued virologic success was demonstrated in 95% vs. 94% of patients in the extended- and immediate-release groups, respectively. The extended-release formulation demonstrated noninferiority in patients previously virologically controlled on the immediate-release formulation.

Adverse Events (Safety Data)1

The incidence of adverse reactions reported in the VERxVE trial (treatment naïve patients) are summarized in Table 2.1,3

Table 2. Incidence of Adverse Reactions Reported in VERxVE Trial (treatment naïve)1,4

Adverse ReactionsNevirapine extended-release (n = 505)Nevirapine immediate-release (n = 506)
Rash (≥Grade 2)3%3%
Clinical hepatitis* (≥Grade 2)2%3%
Any hepatic event6%9%
Symptomatic hepatic events**2%3%
Grade 3 or 4 ALT/AST elevation6%7%

*Includes hepatitis, hepatotoxicity, hepatitis acute, liver disorder, hepatitis toxic, hepatic failure, jaundice

**Anorexia, jaundice, vomiting

Table adapted from Viramune XR™[package insert]. Ridgefield, CT: Boehringer Ingelheim Pharmaceuticals, Inc. Par Pharmaceutical Inc; 2011.

As reported in the manufacturer’s prescribing information, no Grade 2 or greater adverse events occurred in more than 1% of the subjects that were considered related to treatment by the investigator within the TRANxITION trial (switch from immediate-release to extended-release).1

Deaths and Other Serious Adverse Events

Rates of serious adverse events including hepatoxicity and severe rash are reported in Table 2 between the extended- and immediate-release formulations of nevirapine (no p-value reported).



In the VERxVE trial, the percent of patients discontinuing the study drug due to an adverse event were 6.3% vs. 8.9% for extended- and immediate-release formulations, respectively (no p-value reported).3 The TRANxITION trial (switch from immediate-release to extended-release) reported less than or equal to 1% of the patients discontinuing nevirapine extended-release tablets due to an adverse event.4


  • Moderate or severe (Child-Pugh Class B or C, respectively) hepatic impairment
  • Use as part of occupational and non-occupational post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP)

Warnings and Precautions1

·            The most severe adverse reactions for nevirapine include hepatotoxicity and hepatic impairment (fatal and non-fatal) and skin reactions (Stevens-Johnson syndrome, toxic epidermal necrolysis, and hypersensitivity reactions). Nevirapine should be permanently discontinued in patients with clinical hepatitis, transaminase elevations associated with rash or systemic symptoms, or severe skin reactions or hypersensitivity reactions. Patients with rash occurring in the first 18 weeks of therapy must have transaminase levels checked immediately. 

·            Monitor patients for fat redistribution and immune reconstitution. 

·            Following discontinuation of nevirapine consider possibility of resistance due to continued low levels of nevirapine extended-release (prolonged half-life) when used in combination with other antiretroviral agents with shorter half-lives.


Pregnancy category B

Nursing Mothers1

Nevirapine is excreted in human milk. Therefore, due to both the potential of HIV-1 transmission and potential adverse drug events breastfeeding is not recommended.

Sentinel Events

No data available.


Look-alike / Sound-alike (LA / SA) Error Risk Potential

As part of a JC standard, LASA names are assessed during the formulary selection of drugs.  Based on clinical judgment and an evaluation of LASA information from three data sources (Lexi-Comp, First Databank, and ISMP Confused Drug Name List), the following drug names may cause LASA confusion:

NME Drug NameLexi-CompFirst DataBankISMPClinical Judgment
Nevirapine 400mg XR     Viramune XRNelfinavir         ViraceptNone         NoneNone         NoneNevirapine immediate release   Nifedipine     Viramune   Viread tab


Drug Interactions1

Nevirapine induces and is metabolized by CYP3A and CYP2B6. Drug interactions are extrapolated from the initial nevirapine immediate-release studies.  According to the product information, the extended-release formulation has  potential for interaction with drugs metabolized through CYP3A and CYP2B6 such as antiretrovirals (atazanavir/ritonavir, efavirenz, fosamprenavir, indinavir, lopinavir/ritonavir, nelfinavir, squanavir/ritonavir), clarithromycin, oral contraceptives, fluconazole, ketoconazole, methadone, rifabutin, rifampin, herbal products (e.g., St. John’s wort).  Patients receiving nevirapine therapy while using warfarin should have anticoagulation levels monitored closely. Additional information regarding specifics on drug-drug interactions may be found in the prescribing information and the Department of Health and Human Services HIV-1 treatment guidelines.5

Acquisition Costs1,3-4

Nevirapine immediate-release200mg twice daily$4.85$9.70$3540
Nevirapine extended-release400mg once daily$9.34$9.34$3409

Prices listed are as of March 2012 and do not reflect any additional discounts that may be available to the VA or pending generic prices.


Nevirapine extended-release tablets received FDA approval for use in combination therapy for the treatment of HIV-1 infections in adults.  The new formulation provides a bioequivalent, once daily dosing alternative to nevirapine immediate release that can reduce pill burden and thus may potentially increase patient adherence.2,6 Severe skin reactions and hepatotoxity remain as warnings for use of extended-release formulation; therefore, a lead-in phase with immediate-release formulation is required in nevirapine treatment-naïve patients. In addition, the extended-release formulation carries a similar warning to the immediate-release formulation for cautious use in patients with select CD4+ counts and/or underlying hepatic impairment.   The Department of Health and Human Services HIV-1 treatment guidelines recommends nevirapine as an acceptable antiretroviral treatment component for treatment-naïve patients in accordance with the aforementioned CD4+ recommendations.   No preference to either immediate- or extended-release formulation is provided within the guidelines.5


  1. Viramune XR [package insert]. Ridgefield, CT: Boehringer Ingelheim Pharmaceuticals, Inc. Par Pharmaceutical Inc; 2011.
  2. Battegay M, Arasteh K, Plettenberg A, et al. Bioavailability of extended-release nevirapine 400 and 300 mg in HIV-1: a multicenter, open-label study. Clin Ther. 2011;33:1308-20.
  3. Gathe J, Andrade-Villanueva, Santiago S, et al. Efficacy and safety of nevirapine extended-release once daily versus nevirapine immediate-release twice-daily in treatment-naïve HIV-1-infected patients. Antiviral Therapy 2011;16:759-69.
  4. Arasteh K, Ward D, Plettenberg A, et al. Twenty-four-week efficacy and safety of switching virologically suppresses HIV-1-infected patients from nevirapine immediate release 200 mg twice dialy to nevirapine extended release 400 mg once daily (TRANxITION). HIV Medicine 2012;13:236-44.
  5. Panel on Antiretroviral Guidelines for Adults and Adolescents. Guidelines for the use of antiretroviral

agents in HIV-1-infected adults and adolescents. Department of Health and

Human Services. March 27, 2012; 1–240. Available at

AdultandAdolescentGL.pdf. Accessed [March 29, 2012].

  1. Rosenbach KA, Allison R, Nadle JP. Daily dosing  of highly active antiretroviral therapy.  CLin Infect Dis2002;34:686-92.

Prepared 03/12 by James Sanders, PharmD, PhD;

Contact person: Pam Belperio, PharmD and Melinda Neuhauser, PharmD, MPH

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