Antiretroviral therapy for children living with HIV (CLHIV) under 3 years of age commonly includes lopinavir/ritonavir (LPV/r). However, the original liquid LPV/r formulation has taste and cold storage difficulties. To address these challenges, LPV/r oral pellets have been developed. These pellets can be mixed with milk or food for administration and do not require refrigeration. We developed the population pharmacokinetic (PK) model and assessed drug exposure of LPV/r oral pellets administered twice daily to CLHIV per World Health Organization (WHO) weight bands. The PK analysis included Kenyan and Ugandan children participating in the LIVING studies (NCT02346487) receiving LPV/r pellets (40/10 mg) and ABC/3TC (60/30 mg) dispersible tablets. Population PK models were developed for lopinavir (LPV) and ritonavir (RTV) to evaluate the impact of RTV on the oral clearance (CL/F) of LPV. The data obtained from the study were analyzed using nonlinear mixed-effects modeling approach. Data from 514 children, comprising a total of 2,998 plasma concentrations of LPV/r were included in the analysis. The LPV and RTV concentrations were accurately represented by a one-compartment model with first-order absorption (incorporating a lag-time) and elimination. Body weight influenced LPV and RTV PK parameters. The impact of RTV concentrations on the CL/F of LPV was characterized using a maximum effect model. Simulation-predicted target LPV exposures were achieved in children with this pellet formulation across the WHO weight bands. The LPV/r pellets dosed in accordance with WHO weight bands provide adequate LPV exposures in Kenyan and Ugandan children weighing 3.0 to 24.9 kg.
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