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Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Antifungal prophylaxis in chemotherapy-associated neutropenia: a retrospective, observational study

Amy Riedel1*, Lan Choe1, John Inciardi1, Courtney Yuen1, Thomas Martin2 and B Joseph Guglielmo1

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Clinical Pharmacy, School of Pharmacy, University of California San Francisco, San Francisco, USA

2 Division of Hematology/Oncology, Department of Medicine, University of California-San Francisco, San Francisco, USA

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BMC Infectious Diseases 2007, 7:70  doi:10.1186/1471-2334-7-70

Published: 2 July 2007



In August 2002, the antifungal prophylaxis algorithm for neutropenic hematology/oncology (NHO) patients at the Medical Center was changed from conventional amphotericin (AMB) to an azole (AZ) based regimen (fluconazole [FLU] in low-risk and voriconazole [VOR] in high-risk patients). The aim of our study was to compare outcomes associated with the two regimens, including breakthrough fungal infection, adverse drug events, and costs.


Adult, non-febrile, NHO patients who received prophylactic AMB from 8/01/01-7/30/02 or AZ from 8/01/02-7/30/03 were retrospectively evaluated.


A total of 370 patients (AMB: n = 181; AZ: n = 216) associated with 580 hospitalizations (AMB: n = 259; AZ: n = 321) were included. The incidence of probable/definite breakthrough Aspergillus infections was similar among regimens (AMB: 1.9% vs AZ: 0.6%; p=0.19). A greater incidence of mild/moderate (24.7% vs. 5.3%; p < 0.0001) and severe renal dysfunction (13.5% vs. 4.4%; p < 0.0012) was observed with AMB. In contrast, patients treated with VOR were found to have an increased rate of severe hepatic toxicity (32.5%) compared with patients treated with either AMB (22.6%) or FLU (21.4%) (p = 0.05). While the AZ period was associated with a >$9,000 increase in mean total costs/hospitalization, the mean acquisition cost associated with AZ was only $947/hospitalization more than AMB.


While an AZ-based regimen is associated with increased cost, the reduced rate of nephrotoxicity and availability of oral dosage forms, suggests that azoles be used preferentially over AMB. However, an increased rate of severe hepatic toxicity may be associated with VOR.