Adherence measurement for microbicide use within the clinical trial setting remains a challenge for the HIV prevention field. This paper describes an assay method used for determining residual dapivirine levels in post-use vaginal rings from clinical trials conducted with the Dapivirine Vaginal Matrix Ring-004 developed by the International Partnership for Microbicides to prevent male to female HIV transmission. Post-use assay results from three Ring-004 clinical trials showed that of the 25 mg drug load, approximately 4 mg of dapivirine is released from the matrix ring over a 28-day use period. Data obtained by both in vitro and in vivo studies indicate that dapivirine is released according to a diffusion mechanism, as determined by conformance of both data sets to the Higuchi equation. This, coupled with the low variability associated with batch production over two manufacturing sites and 20 batches of material, provides evidence that post-use ring analysis can contribute to the assessment of adherence to ring use. Limitations of this method include the potential of intra-participant and inter-participant variability and uncertainty associated with measuring the low amount of dapivirine actually released relative to the drug load. Therefore, residual drug levels should not serve as the only direct measurement for microbicide adherence in vaginal ring clinical trials but should preferably be used as part of a multi-pronged approach towards understanding and assessing adherence to vaginal ring use.
Spence, P.; Nel, A.; van Niekerk, N.; Derrick, T.; Wilder, S.; Devlin, B. Post-use assay of vaginal rings (VRs) as a potential measure of clinical trial adherence. Journal of Pharmaceutical and Biomedical Analysis (2016) 125: 94-100. [DOI: 10.1016/j.jpba.2016.03.023]