What are the guidelines for HLA-B*5701 screening prior to initiation of abacavir therapy?

Updated: Dec 07, 2018
  • Author: Ali Torkamani, PhD; Chief Editor: Karl S Roth, MD  more...
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Guidelines in North America and Europe recommend routine screening for HLA-B*5701 prior to initiation of abacavir therapy. [9, 10, 11, 8]  However, its necessity in low-risk populations, such as the Han-Chinese in Hong Kong, has been questioned. [12]  

The FDA‐approved drug label for abacavir includes a black box warning about the risk of hypersensitivity in carriers of the allele and a recommendation for screening. Abacavir drug labels from the European Medicines Agency and Health Canada carry similar warnings and recommendations. However the drug label in Japan provides no guidance regarding testing and notes that the association between the HLA-B*5701 variant and hypersensitivity is unknown due to the low prevalence (0.1%) of the variant in the Japanese population. [13]

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