Interactions between recreational
drugs and antiretroviral agents

Antoniou T, Tseng AL.
Tony Antoniou PharmD, Pharmacist,
HIV Program/Inner City Health,
St. Michael's Hospital, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
Ann Pharmacother 2002 Oct;36(10):1598-613


OBJECTIVE: To summarize existing data regarding potential interactions between recreational drugs and drugs commonly used in the management of HIV-positive patients. DATA SOURCES: Information was obtained via a MEDLINE search (1966-August 2002) using the MeSH headings human immunodeficiency virus, drug interactions, cytochrome P450, medication names commonly prescribed for the management of HIV and related opportunistic infections, and names of commonly used recreational drugs. Abstracts of national and international conferences, review articles, textbooks, and references of all articles were also reviewed. STUDY SELECTION AND DATA EXTRACTION: Literature on pharmacokinetic interactions was considered for inclusion. Pertinent information was selected and summarized for discussion. In the absence of specific data, prediction of potential clinically significant interactions was based on pharmacokinetic and pharmacodynamic properties. RESULTS: All protease inhibitors (PIs) and nonnucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors are substrates and potent inhibitors or inducers of the cytochrome P450 system. Many classes of recreational drugs, including benzodiazepines, amphetamines, and opioids, are also metabolized by the liver and can potentially interact with antiretrovirals. Controlled interaction studies are often not available, but clinically significant interactions have been observed in a number of case reports. Overdoses secondary to interactions between the "rave" drugs methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA) or gamma-hydroxybutyrate (GHB) and PIs have been reported. PIs, particularly ritonavir, may also inhibit metabolism of amphetamines, ketamine, lysergic acid diethylmide (LSD), and phencyclidine (PCP). Case series and pharmacokinetic studies suggest that nevirapine and efavirenz induce methadone metabolism, which may lead to symptoms of opiate withdrawal. A similar interaction may exist between methadone and the PIs ritonavir and nelfinavir, although the data are less consistent. Opiate metabolism can be inhibited or induced by concomitant PIs, and patients should be monitored for signs of toxicity and/or loss of analgesia. PIs should not be coadministered with midazolam and triazolam, since prolonged sedation may occur. CONCLUSIONS: Interactions between agents commonly prescribed for patients with HIV and recreational drugs can occur, and may be associated with serious clinical consequences. Clinicians should encourage open dialog with their patients on this topic, to avoid compromising antiretroviral efficacy and increasing the risk of drug toxicity.

Oxidative stress
MDMA v fenfluramine
Cutaneous vasoconstriction
Ecstasy/MDMA and cannabis
Arginine-vasopressin release
MDMA, loud noise and the heart
Serotonin, noradrenline and dopamine
MDMA/polydrug users in the UK and Italy

and further reading

Future Opioids
BLTC Research
Utopian Surgery?
The Abolitionist Project
The Hedonistic Imperative
The Reproductive Revolution
Critique of Huxley's Brave New World

The Good Drug Guide
The Good Drug Guide

The Responsible Parent's Guide
To Healthy Mood Boosters For All The Family