Doravirine (Pifeltro) and doravirine/TDF/3TC FDC (Delstrigo) approved in Europe

Simon Collins, HIV i-Base

On 28 November 2018, the European Medicines Agency approved doravirine as a separate formulation for use with ART and in a fixed dose combination (FDC) with generic tenofovir DF and lamivudine (3TC). [1]

Doravirine is a once daily NNRTI that was initially developed as MK-1439. The standard adult dose is 100 mg once-daily, with or without food.

Approval is for adults (18 years and older) based on results from two large international randomised phase 3 studies in treatment-naive participants with control arms using darunavir (in DRIVE-FORWARD) and efavirenz (in DRIVE-AHEAD).

Each study reported primary endpoint results of viral suppression <50 copies/mL at 48 weeks in 84% vs approximately 81% (doravirine vs control respectively), with 95% confidence intervals that confirmed non-inferiority.

Although discontinuation rates were low in all study arms, tolerability advantages favoured doravirine from fewer darunavir/ritonavir-associated or efavirenz-associated side effects.

Doravirine is contraindicated with drugs that are strong cytochrome P450 CYP3A enzyme inducers, because of the potential to reduce doravirine levels.

These drugs include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Anticonvulsants: carbamazepine, oxcarbazepine, phenobarbital, phenytoin.
  • Androgen receptor inhibitor: enzalutamide.
  • Antimycobacterials: rifampin, rifapentine.
  • Mitotane.
  • St. John’s wort (Hypericum perforatum).

Doravirine is marketed in the US with the trade name Pifeltro and the doravirine/TDF/3TC FDC is marketed as Delstrigo. Both formulations were developed by Merck (MSD).


Although most treatment guidelines now recommend integrase inhibitor-based first line treatment, drug pricing is also increasingly important.

Doravirine has a better tolerability profile compared to efavirenz (which is still widely used despite current guidelines to use integrase inhibitors).

The FDA indication is only for people who are treatment naive. However, in vitro, doravirine retains sensitivity to common NNRTI resistance mutations (K103N, Y181C, G190A, E101K, E138K, and K103N/Y181C), with a profile that suggests limited cross-resistance to rilpivirine and etravirine. In vivo, doravirine selects for distinct mutations (V106A and F227L) that remain sensitive to rilpivirine and efavirenz (with possible increased sensitivity to the NRTI MK-8591).

Several studies in treatment-experienced participants are ongoing, but only as switch options in people with current viral suppression.

Doravirine is also included in an FDC with 3TC plus the investigational NRTI EFdA (MK-8591), with phase 2 results expected in mid-2019. [2]

Doravirine was approved by the FDA in the US in August 2018. [3]


  1. Merck (MSD) press release. European Commission approves Merck’s doravirine/lamivudine/tenofovir disoproxil fumarate (Delstrigo), a once-daily fixed-dose combination tablet as a complete regimen and doravirine (Pifeltro), an NNRTI, both for the treatment of HIV-1 in appropriate patients. (28 November 2018).
  2. MK-8591 with doravirine and lamivudine in participants infected with HIV type 1 (MK-8591-011) (DRIVE2Simplify). NCT03272347. 
  3. FDA approves doravirine (Pifeltro) and new FDC with TDF/3TC (Delstrigo) in the US. HTB September 2018.

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