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27 September 2013

The combination of emtricitabine and tenofovir

Tenofovir is an anti-retroviral. Anti-retrovirals are drugs that suppress the activity or replication of retroviruses such as HIV.

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The combination of emtricitabine and tenofovir

The combination of emtricitabine and tenofovir is the active ingredient of Truvada tablets (Nappi Code: 708254-001).

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

In South Africa the combination of emtricitabine and tenofovir 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 this combination 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 this medicine 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 anti-retroviral drugs and should not be prescribed on its own.

The combination of emtricitabine and tenofovir 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 this combination 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. The combination of emtricitabine and tenofovir targets and inhibits this enzyme, thus preventing the spread of HIV.

Fast facts

Drug schedule: schedule 4
Available as: the combination of emtricitabine and tenofovir is available as tablets.
What does it do? The combination of emtricitabine and tenofovir is an anti-viral drug.
Overdose risk: medium
Dependence risk: low
Is this combination available as a generic? no
Is this combination available on prescription only? yes

User information

Dietary advice: this combination should be taken with or after food.
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 and kidney function.

Special precautions
Consult your doctor before using this drug if:

  • you have known liver or kidney problems
  • you are obese
  • you have hepatitis
  • you have a history of alcohol abuse
  • 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 tenofovir is also present and transmitted in breast milk.
Porphyria: avoid. This medication may cause serious adverse effects. 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 under the age of 18 years.
Driving and hazardous work: caution is advised as use of this medication may lead to dizziness. 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
nausea/vomiting
X
 
X
 
diarrhoea
X
 
X
 
abdominal pain
X
 
X
 
loss of appetite
X
 
X
 
flatulence
X
 
X
 
headache
 
X
X
 
weakness
 
X
X
 
dizziness
 
X
X
 
abnormal fat distribution
 
X
 
X
fatigue
 
X
X
 
insomnia
 
X
X
 
skin discoloration (hand and feet)
 
X
 
X
fever
 
X
 
X
muscle/joint pain
 
X
 
X
depression
 
X
 
X
blood disorders
 
X
 
X
high levels of blood lactic acid levels
 
X
 
X
skin rash
 
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 this combination. It is important to consult your doctor or pharmacist before combining any drug with tenofovir.

Disease interactions
Contact your doctor if you have a liver or kidney disease.

Overdose action
This combination, when taken in overdose is capable of having serious consequences. Seek immediate medical attention.

Recommended dosage
Adults, oral: 1 tablet (200 mg emtricitabine, 300 mg tenofovir) once daily.

 

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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