Meds and you

27 September 2013

Emtricitabine

Lopinavir is not available as a product on its own. It is however one of the active ingredients found in Truvada tablets (Nappi code: 708254).

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Lopinavir is not available as a product on its own. It is however one of the active ingredients found in Truvada tablets (Nappi code: 708254).

General information
Emtricitabine is an anti-retroviral. Anti-retrovirals are drugs that suppress the activity or replication of retroviruses such as HIV. This specific anti-viral is classified as a nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitor, meaning that it blocks an enzyme which is essential for the retrovirus to multiply.

In South Africa emtricitabine is registered for the treatment of infection with the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), often in combination with other anti-retroviral drugs.

If not treated, HIV will advance to weaken the body's immune system, gradually chipping away to create grounds for other infections, against which the body will find more and more difficult to protect itself. HIV develops into acquired immune deficiency syndrome (Aids) when your immune system has been severely weakened.

For emtricitabine to be effective, it has to be taken regularly. By skipping even a few doses the risk for treatment failure increases substantially. Try to ensure that you take all your doses, and at the correct time.

It should be understood that emtricitabine is not a cure for HIV or Aids, but is one of a variety of drugs that only restrict the advance of the virus, keeping the immune system up and running. It is used in combination with other antiretroviral drugs and should not be prescribed on its own.

Emtricitabine does not reduce transmission of HIV; you can still infect another person with the virus, and the use of appropriate precautions to prevent spread to other persons is highly recommended.

How does emtricitabine work?
When HIV infects a human T-cell, a type of white blood cell that plays a key role in the functioning of the immune system, viral genetic information in the form of RNA needs to be converted to DNA for the virus to have any effect. It makes use of an enzyme called reverse transcriptase to achieve this conversion. Emtricitabine targets and inhibits this enzyme thus preventing the spread of HIV.

Fast facts
Drug schedule: schedule 4
Available as: emtricitabine is available as capsules.
What does it do? Emtricitabine is an anti-viral drug
Overdose risk: medium
Dependence risk: low
Is emtricitabine available as a generic? no
Is emtricitabine available on prescription only? yes

User information
Stopping this medicine: do not stop taking this drug without consulting your doctor.
Prolonged use: side effects may develop with long-term use; frequent blood tests may be required with prolonged therapy to determine liver function.

Special precautions
Consult your doctor before using this drug if:

  • you have known liver or kidney problems.
  • you have hepatitis
  • you have a history of alcohol abuse
  • you are obese
  • you are taking other medication

Pregnancy: avoid. Potential risk to the foetus has been reported. Consult your doctor before use, or if you are planning to fall pregnant.
Breastfeeding: avoid. Not only can HIV infection be passed to your baby through breast milk, but emtricitabine is also present and transmitted in breast milk.
Porphyria: avoid. It is unknown how this medication may affect your condition. Consult your doctor before use.
The elderly: caution is advised in the elderly as side effects may be more severe.
Infants and children: this medication is not intended for use in children.
Driving and hazardous work: caution is advised as use of this medication may lead to dizziness and/or light-headedness. Avoid such activities until you know how this medication affects you.
Alcohol: avoid concomitant use of alcohol with this medication.

Possible side effects

Side effect

Frequency

Consult your doctor

Common

Rare

Only if severe

In all cases

diarrhoea

x


x


nausea

x


x


loss of appetite

x


x


headache


x

x


dizziness


x

x


insomnia


x

x


skin discoloration (hand and feet)


x


x

skin rash


x


x

fever


x


x

muscle/ joint pain


x


x

raised level of lactic acid in blood


x


x

changes in body fat distribution


x


x

blood disorders


x


x

Interactions:

Drug interactions:


atazanavir

reduced bioavailability of atazanavir

didanosine

increased bioavailability of didanosine

Caution is advised when used concomitantly with medicines that are known to affect kidney function.

Many other drugs may interact with emtricitabine. It is important to consult your doctor or pharmacist before combining any drug with emtricitabine.

Disease interactions
Consult your doctor before using this drug if you have known liver or kidney problems.

Overdose action
A small overdose is no cause for concern. In case of intentional large overdose, seek emergency medical attention.


This material is not intended to substitute medical advice, but is for informational purposes only. Please consult a physician for specific treatment and recommendations.

 
 

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