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Classification: A

Drug products: Kaletra, Lopinavir/Ritonavir Accord, Lopinavir/Ritonavir Mylan

ATC code: J05AR10

Substances: lopinavir


No consistent differences in treatment effect of lopinavir have been reported between men and women. Different adverse event patterns have been found for antiretroviral treatment in general although no specific studies with a clinically relevant sex analysis regarding lopinavir have been found.

Additional information

Antiretrovirals for treatment of HIV are always given as a combination of at least three medicines. Cobicistat is used to boost the effect of other antiretroviral drugs. As studies on HIV patients always include patients receiving combination therapy it is difficult to know which of the studied medicines that cause changes in effect and/or adverse events.

Pharmacokinetics and dosing

The manufacturer does not report any pharmacokinetic differences between men and women and does not recommend any difference in dosing based on patients’ sex [1]. There are several published studies showing similar findings.A pharmacokinetic study of lopinavir/ritonavir treated HIV patients (78 men, 76 women) found no differences between men and women in pharmacokinetic variables of lopinavir [2]. Similarly, another study of lopinavir/ritonavir (9 men, 11 women) found no differences between men and women in pharmacokinetic variables [3]. A study of lopinavir pharmacokinetics performed in a TDM database (607 men, 150 women, 45 unknown) found weight to be inversely related with lopinavir concentrations and women to have higher lopinavir concentrations than men. However, in a multivariate analysis only body weight remained related to lopinavir concentrations [4]. In contrast, a pharmacokinetic study in pediatric HIV patients treated with lopinavir/ritonavir (90 boys, 67 girls) plasma clearance was found to increase with 39% after the age of 12 years for boys compared to girls [5]. 

A pharmacokinetic study in healthy volunteers measuring plasma drug concentrations after a single oral dose of lopinavir/ritonavir (8 men, 8 women) found no significant sex differences in oral bioavailability and systemic clearance of lopinavir or ritonavir after co-prandial administration if weight adjusted doses were used [6]. It is suggested by the authors that food would reduce the gastric physiological differences between men and women [7].


In the CASTLE study, treatment-naive adult HIV-patients (606 men, 277 women) were randomized to receive either atazanavir/ritonavir or lopinavir/ritonavir with fixed-dose tenofovir/emtricitabine. At week 96, virological response was higher in women and men receiving atazanavir/ritonavir than those receiving lopinavir/ritonavir and lower in women than men in both treatment arms (63% and 71%, respectively of women and men on lopinavir/ritonavir) [8]. In contrast, a South African study in children with HIV randomized to continue ritonavir-boosted lopinavir-based antiretroviral treatment (ART) or switch to nevirapine-based ART (168 boys, 155 girls) no sex differences in risk of virological failure were observed within either treatment group. Girls on nevirapine had more robust CD4 count improvement compared to boys and to girls remaining on ritonavir-boosted lopinavir [9].

Adverse effects

In general, women have been reported to have more nausea and gastrointestinal reactions, more lipodystrophy, a higher risk of developing kidney failure and lactic acidosis but a lower risk of LDL-level increase compared to men on various antiretroviral treatments [10-13]. In an analysis of the risk of lactic acidosis in a randomized open-label in HIV-infected individuals (1204 men, 567 women) 13 cases of lactic acidosis were found (3 men, 10 women). The risk of lactic acidosis was higher in women (OR 7.19, 95% CI 1.84-40.75; P=0.001) regardless of therapy choice. Higher body mass index was also a risk factor [14]. The risk of lactic acidosis is commonly attributed to nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors (NRTI) and nucleoside analogs.

Reproductive health issues

Lopinavir has not been reported to interact with oral contraceptives [15]. However, all lopinavir formulations are given as fixed combinations [15]. However, all lopinavir formulations are in fixed combination with ritonavir which adversely interacts with oral contraceptives and lowers the dose of both progesterone and estrogen component thus rendering them potentially ineffective [15, 16]. It is recommended that an alternative, effective and safe method of contraception should be used during treatment [16]. Regarding drug-drug interactions aspects, please consult Janusmed Interactions (in Swedish, Janusmed interaktioner).

Regarding teratogenic aspects, please consult Janusmed Drugs and Birth Defects (in Swedish, Janusmed fosterpåverkan).

Other information

In the CASTLE study, treatment-naive adult HIV-patients (606 men, 277 women) were randomized to receive either atazanavir/ritonavir or lopinavir/ritonavir with fixed-dose tenofovir/emtricitabine discontinuation. Discontinuation rates were higher in women than men in each treatment arm (29% and 18%, respectively of women and men on lopinavir/ritonavir) [8].In a descriptive retrospective Brazilian study on HIV patients on highly active antiretroviral therapy those who modified their treatment within the first year of treatment were mostly men (52 men, 35 women). Efavirenz was the most often changed drug, followed by tenofovir, zidovudine and lopinavir/ritonavir [17].

An analysis of sex differences in a pharmacovigilance register (1547 men, 607 women) found women to be younger, less frequently HCV-co-infected, have less triglycerides alterations but a higher proportion of low HDL-cholesterol than men. Patients were treated with different combinations including lopinavir, atazanavir, tipranavir, fosamprenavir, and darunavir. Women had better immunological recovery and discontinued protease inhibitor (including lopinavir) treatment for adverse events and their own will more frequently [18].

In a South African study of children with HIV randomized to continue ritonavir-boosted lopinavir-based antiretroviral treatment (ART) or switch to nevirapine-based ART (168 boys, 155 girls) girls remaining on ritonavir-boosted lopinavir after a mean of 3.4 years had a higher total cholesterol:HDL ratio and lower mean HDL than boys on that treatment [9].

A review has described drug exposure in the genital tract of men and women which is of interest in viral transferal and in effect of pre-exposure prophylactic treatment. In men, concentrations in seminal fluid were described to be highest for nucleoside analogues and lowest for protease inhibitors and efavirenz. Seminal accumulation of raltegravir and maraviroc was defined as moderate. The rank order of accumulation presented in the review is nucleoside/nucleotide reverse transcriptase inhibitors [lamivudine/zidovudine/tenofovir/didanosine > stavudine/abacavir] > raltegravir > indinavir/maraviroc/nevirapine >> efavirenz/protease inhibitors [amprenavir/atazanavir/darunavir > lopinavir/ritonavir > saquinavir] > enfuvirtide. In the female genital tract, the nucleoside analogues also were described as having high accumulation ratios, whereas protease inhibitors have limited penetration; however, substantial variability exists. Second generation non-nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitor etravirine, and maraviroc and raltegravir, have been found to demonstrate effective accumulation in cervicovaginal secretions. The rank of accumulation presented in the review is nucleoside/nucleotide reverse transcriptase inhibitor [zidovudine/lamivudine/didanosine > emtricitabine/tenofovir] > indinavir > maraviroc/raltegravir/darunavir/etravirine > nevirapine/abacavir > protease inhibitors [amprenavir/atazanavir/ritonavir] > lopinavir/stavudine/efavirenz > saquinavir [19]. 

Updated: 2018-12-18

Date of litterature search: 2018-07-18


  1. Kaletra (lopnavir/ritonavir). Summary of Product Characteristics. European Medicines Agency (EMA); 2018.
  2. Umeh OC, Currier JS, Park JG, Cramer Y, Hermes AE, Fletcher CV. Sex differences in lopinavir and ritonavir pharmacokinetics among HIV-infected women and men. J Clin Pharmacol. 2011;51(12):1665-73. PubMed
  3. Ofotokun I, Chuck SK, Hitti JE. Antiretroviral pharmacokinetic profile: a review of sex differences. Gend Med. 2007;4(2):106-19. PubMed
  4. van der Leur MR, Burger DM, la Porte CJ, Koopmans PP. A retrospective TDM database analysis of interpatient variability in the pharmacokinetics of lopinavir in HIV-infected adults. Ther Drug Monit. 2006;28(5):650-3. PubMed
  5. Jullien V, Urien S, Hirt D, Delaugerre C, Rey E, Teglas JP et al. Population analysis of weight-, age-, and sex-related differences in the pharmacokinetics of lopinavir in children from birth to 18 years. Antimicrob Agents Chemother. 2006;50(11):3548-55. PubMed
  6. Ibarra M, Magallanes L, Lorier M, Vázquez M, Fagiolino P. Sex-by-formulation interaction assessed through a bioequivalence study of efavirenz tablets. Eur J Pharm Sci. 2016;85(1):106-11. PubMed
  7. Freire AC, Basit AW, Choudhary R, Piong CW, Merchant HA. Does sex matter? The influence of gender on gastrointestinal physiology and drug delivery. Int J Pharm. 2011;415(1):15-28. PubMed
  8. Squires KE, Johnson M, Yang R, Uy J, Sheppard L, Absalon J et al. Comparative gender analysis of the efficacy and safety of atazanavir/ritonavir and lopinavir/ritonavir at 96 weeks in the CASTLE study. J Antimicrob Chemother. 2011;66(2):363-70. PubMed
  9. Shiau S, Kuhn L, Strehlau R, Martens L, McIlleron H, Meredith S et al. Sex differences in responses to antiretroviral treatment in South African HIV-infected children on ritonavir-boosted lopinavir- and nevirapine-based treatment. BMC Pediatr. 2014;14(1):39. PubMed
  10. Hodder S, Arasteh K, De Wet J, Gathe J, Gold J, Kumar P et al. Effect of gender and race on the week 48 findings in treatment-naïve, HIV-1-infected patients enrolled in the randomized, phase III trials ECHO and THRIVE. HIV Med. 2012;13(7):406-15. PubMed
  11. Kumar PN, Rodriguez-French A, Thompson MA, Tashima KT, Averitt D, Wannamaker PG et al. A prospective, 96-week study of the impact of Trizivir, Combivir/nelfinavir, and lamivudine/stavudine/nelfinavir on lipids, metabolic parameters and efficacy in antiretroviral-naive patients: effect of sex and ethnicity. HIV Med. 2006;7(2):85-98. PubMed
  12. Smith KY, Tierney C, Mollan K, Venuto CS, Budhathoki C, Ma Q et al. Outcomes by sex following treatment initiation with atazanavir plus ritonavir or efavirenz with abacavir/lamivudine or tenofovir/emtricitabine. Clin Infect Dis. 2014;58(4):555-63. PubMed
  13. Mocroft A, Lundgren JD, Ross M, Law M, Reiss P, Kirk O et al. Development and validation of a risk score for chronic kidney disease in HIV infection using prospective cohort data from the D:A:D study. PLoS Med. 2015;12(3):e1001809. PubMed
  14. Dlamini J, Ledwaba L, Mokwena N, Mokhathi T, Orsega S, Tsoku M et al. Lactic acidosis and symptomatic hyperlactataemia in a randomized trial of first-line therapy in HIV-infected adults in South Africa. Antivir Ther. 2011;16(4):605-9. PubMed
  15. Janusmed Interactions. Stockholm: Stockholm County Council. 2018 [cited 2018-07-18.] länk
  16. Norvir (ritonavir). Summary of Product Characteristics. European Medicines Agency (EMA); 2018.
  17. Bandeira ACPCS, Elias DBD, Cavalcante MG, Lima DGL, Távora LGF. Antiretroviral changes during the first year of therapy. Rev Assoc Med Bras (1992). 2017;63(7):606-612. PubMed
  18. Menzaghi B, Ricci E, Vichi F, De Sociod GV, Carenzi L, Martinelli C et al. Gender differences in HIV infection: is there a problem? Analysis from the SCOLTA cohorts. Biomed Pharmacother. 2014;68(3):385-90. PubMed
  19. Else LJ, Taylor S, Back DJ, Khoo SH. Pharmacokinetics of antiretroviral drugs in anatomical sanctuary sites: the male and female genital tract. Antivir Ther. 2011;16(8):1149-67. PubMed
  20. Läkemedelsstatistik. Stockholm: Socialstyrelsen. 2017 [cited 2018-07-24.] länk

Authors: Mia von Euler

Reviewed by: Karin Schenck-Gustafsson

Approved by: Karin Schenck-Gustafsson