oa South African Medical Journal - Dose-related adverse events in South African patients prescribed clofazimine for drug-resistant tuberculosis - research

Volume 110 Number 1
  • ISSN : 0256-9574
  • E-ISSN: 2078-5135



Background. Optimal drug levels and minimal toxicity are critical factors in improving treatment outcomes for patients prescribed new and repurposed medicine for drug-resistant (DR) tuberculosis (TB). The optimal dose and dose-related safety of clofazimine (CFZ), a repurposed medicine for DR TB, in the South African (SA) population are unknown.

Objectives. To report on dose-related adverse events in patients receiving CFZ plus a background regimen for DR TB.

Methods. In a retrospective review of patient folders from 2012 to 2014, adverse events documented for patients receiving high- (≥200 mg) and low-dose (100 mg) CFZ in a centralised DR TB hospital in KwaZulu-Natal Province, SA, were investigated for an association between dose-weight interactions and adverse events.

Results. Of 600 patients included, 78.7% (n=472) weighed ≥50 kg. Of these, 17.4% (n=82) received 100 mg CFZ and 82.6% (n=390) received >200 mg. Of 128 patients (21.3%) who weighed <50 kg, 68.0% (n=87) received 100 mg CFZ and 32.0% (n=41) received ≥200 mg. Of 463 patients (77.2%) who were HIV-positive, 94.0% were on antiretrovirals. There was no difference between the dose-weight cohorts in the background regimen given in addition to high- or low-dose CFZ. The frequency and types of adverse events observed were similar to the published literature. When analysed per dose-weight cohort, patients weighing <50 kg and receiving high-dose CFZ (≥200 mg) had a 2.6 times higher risk of any adverse event (adjusted odds ratio (aOR) 2.57; 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.02 - 6.05; p=0.05: reference category <50 kg and 100 mg). Patients weighing <50 kg and receiving high-dose CFZ had a 3.3 times higher risk of gastrointestinal adverse events than patients weighing <50 kg and receiving 100 mg CFZ (aOR 3.30; 95% CI 1.51 - 7.19; p=0.003). A high risk of chest pain was observed in patients receiving high- and low-dose CFZ, irrespective of weight. Patients weighing <50 kg receiving high-dose CFZ had a slightly higher risk of adverse events related to the skin (aOR 1.2; 95% CI 0.55 - 2.62; p=0.7) There were no documented reports of the CFZ dose being reduced or the drug being stopped due to adverse events in the sample population.

Conclusions. There is an association between dose-weight interaction and adverse events. The odds of any adverse event occurring were higher when low-weight patients (<50 kg) received high-dose CFZ (≥200 mg). Gastrointestinal and skin-related adverse events were more common when high-dose CFZ was used in patients weighing <50 kg. Chest pain was reported in patients receiving high- and low-dose CFZ, irrespective of weight, and may be a symptom of cardiac toxicity. Plasma concentrations of CFZ may be affected by drug-drug interactions, so active drug safety monitoring including electrocardiograms is recommended routinely when CFZ is part of the regimen.

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