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Issue No. 4 | January 29, 2010

News and Features

FDA Advises Serious Liver Disorder Associated with the Use of Videx/Videx EC (Didanosine)

"The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is alerting healthcare professionals and patients about a rare, but serious, complication in the liver known as non-cirrhotic portal hypertension in patients using Videx or Videx EC (didanosine). Didanosine is a medication used to treat human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection. Videx was the first approved didanosine medication. Videx EC is a delayed-release version of Videx.

"Non-cirrhotic portal hypertension (portal hypertension that is not caused by cirrhosis of the liver) is rare in the United States. It occurs when blood flow in the major vein in the liver (the portal vein) slows down. This slowed blood flow can lead to the development of severely enlarged esophageal veins (varices) in the gastrointestinal system. Because esophageal varices are thin and portal hypertension increases the pressure of blood flow in these veins, esophageal varices can break open. This can result in serious bleeding and, in some cases, death.

"FDA became aware of cases of non-cirrhotic portal hypertension through adverse event reports submitted to FDA's Adverse Event Reporting System (AERS). Based on these reports, FDA has revised the didanosine drug label to include information about non-cirrhotic portal hypertension to help ensure the safe use of this drug.

"FDA believes the clinical benefits of didanosine for certain patients with HIV continue to outweigh its potential risks. The decision to use this drug, however, must be made on an individual basis between the treating physician and the patient."

Additional safety information regarding Videx/Videx EC (didanosine) can be found in the FDA press release.

Study Suggests HIV Infection and Aging Independently Affect Brain Function

“We investigated the interactions between human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection and aging and their effects on brain function demands by means of functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). A multiple-regression model was used to study the association and interaction between fMRI measures, HIV serostatus, and age for 26 HIV-infected subjects and 25 seronegative subjects. Although HIV serostatus and age independently affected fMRI measures, no interaction occurred. Functional brain demands in HIV-positive subjects were equivalent to those of HIV-negative subjects who were 15-20 years older. Frailty parallels between HIV infection and aging could result from continued immunological challenges depleting resources and triggering increased metabolic demands. In the future, fMRI could be a noninvasive biomarker to assess HIV infection in the brain.”

More information is available: