BACKGROUND: Severely immunocompromised individuals are highly susceptible to Candida infection of the esophagus. This randomized, double-blind study assessed the dose-response relationship of the new echinocandin antifungal, micafungin, compared with that of standard fluconazole treatment. METHODS: A total of 245 patients (age, > or =18 years) with a prior diagnosis of acquired immunodeficiency syndrome/human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection and esophageal candidiasis, confirmed by endoscopy and culture, were randomized to receive micafungin (50, 100, or 150 mg per day) or fluconazole (200 mg per day). Both agents were administered once per day by a 1-h intravenous infusion for 14-21 days. The primary efficacy end point was endoscopic cure rate, defined as endoscopy grade of 0 at the end of therapy. RESULTS: The endoscopic cure rate (grade 0) was dose-dependent with 50, 100, and 150 mg of micafungin per day at 68.8%, 77.4%, and 89.8%, respectively. Symptoms improved or resolved rapidly (3-7 days of treatment in the majority of patients). The endoscopic cure rate for 100 and 150 mg of micafungin per day (83.5%) was comparable to that for 200 mg of fluconazole per day (86.7%; 95% confidence interval for the difference in endoscopic cure rate, -14.0% to 7.7%). The overall safety and tolerability was acceptable, with no important differences between micafungin (all doses) and fluconazole. CONCLUSIONS: The dose-response findings demonstrate a greater efficacy with micafungin at 100 and 150 mg per day than at 50 mg per day. This study also indicates that the efficacy of micafungin (at dosages of 100 and 150 mg per day) was comparable to that of fluconazole, suggesting that micafungin represents a valuable new treatment option for esophageal candidiasis in HIV-positive patients.
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