Orange Juice Helps Boost Blood Levels of AIDS Drug

Release Date: July 8, 1996 This content is archived.


VANCOUVER -- A glass of orange juice appears to enhance the effect of a potent experimental AIDS drug, according to research in the Laboratory for Antiviral Research in the University at Buffalo School of Pharmacy.

Too little stomach acid, a complication of AIDS, can interfere with the absorption of delavirdine, a promising new AIDS drug developed by Upjohn, which is close to filing a New Drug Application for the drug with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

The UB researchers found that a glass of orange juice boosts the level of stomach acid and, in turn, the level of the drug in the blood of those receiving it, Gene Morse, Pharm.D., reported here today (July 8, 1996) at the International AIDS Conference.

The work was done by Morse, associate professor, chair of the Department of Pharmacy Practice at UB and director of the Laboratory for Antiviral Research; Mark Shelton, Pharm.D., UB research assistant professor, and Ross Hewitt, M.D., director of immunodeficiency services at the Erie County Medical Center. It was funded by the National Institutes of Health and Upjohn Pharmaceuticals.

Morse explained that the researchers targeted certain concentrations of delavirdine in patients and studied the factors that prevented achieving those targets. They found that large changes in blood levels of delavirdine can result from very small changes in absorption.

"If patients have reduced stomach acid, they may absorb less drug and may not receive adequate therapeutic benefit," he added.

In the study, 20 patients swallowed a consumable, radiotelemetry device that, upon reaching the stomach, sent a signal to a computer that recorded their gastric-acid levels.

Patients with low levels were given orange juice or glutamic acid along with delavirdine.

"Both were effective in boosting acid and drug levels to the point where the expected therapeutic benefit should be achieved," Morse noted.

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