Atripla (Efavirenz/Emtricitabine/Tenofivir)

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What is Atripla (Efavirenz/Emtricitabine/Tenofivir) prescribed for?

This medication is a combination of three different drugs: Efavirenz, Emtricitabine and Tenofivir. And normally this medication is used alone or with other medications to help control the HIV infection. When taken, this medication helps to decrease the amount of HIV in your body so your immune system can function better. And in turn, this lowers your chance of getting HIV complications such as new infections and cancer, and it helps to improve your quality of life.

Efavirenz belongs to a class of drugs known as non-nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors (NNRTIs). Emtricitabine and tenofovir belong to a class of drugs known as nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors (NRTIs).

This medication is not a cure for HIV. However, there is ways to decrease the risk of spreading the virus to others. Just be sure to continue taking all of your HIV medication. Use protection during sexual intercourse. And do not share any personal items such as needles, toothbrushes and razors.

This medication is to be taken orally on an empty stomach, usually once daily and at bedtime. Taking this medicine at bedtime helps decrease some of the side effects.

It is important to continue to take this medication as your doctor has prescribed for you.  Do not skip any doses. Do not increase your intake or dosage, and do not take this medication more then what your doctor has instructed. And do not cease in taking this medication, unless you are directly told to do so by your doctor. Skipping or changing your dose on your own, and without your doctor’s approval, may cause the virus to increase and may make the infection more difficult to treat, and you may receive the harsher end of the side effects.

Before taking this medication, notify your doctor if you are allergic to any of the three ingredients, which are Efavirenz, Emtricitabine, and Tenofivir. Also notify your doctor of any other allergies you may have.

Before using this medication, it is important to relay all of your medical history to your doctor, if you are experiencing any of these, inform your doctor right way; kidney problems, liver problems (such as hepatitis B or C, cirrhosis), mental/mood conditions (such as depression, thoughts of suicide, psychosis), drug/substance/alcohol abuse, seizures, high cholesterol/triglyceride levels, bone problems (such as bone disease, bone loss/osteoporosis, weak/broken bones), disease of the pancreas (pancreatitis).

Efavirenz/emtricitabine/tenofovir may cause a condition that affects the heart rhythm (QT prolongation). QT prolongation can rarely cause serious (rarely fatal) fast/irregular heartbeat and other symptoms (such as severe dizziness, fainting) that need medical attention right away.

The risk of QT prolongation may be increased if you have certain medical conditions or are taking other drugs that may cause QT prolongation. Before using efavirenz/emtricitabine/tenofovir, tell your doctor or pharmacist of all the drugs you take and if you have any of the following conditions: certain heart problems (heart failure, slow heartbeat, QT prolongation in the EKG), family history of certain heart problems (QT prolongation in the EKG, sudden cardiac death).

Low levels of potassium or magnesium in the blood may also increase your risk of QT prolongation. This risk may increase if you use certain drugs (such as diuretics "water pills") or if you have conditions such as severe sweating, diarrhea, or vomiting. Talk to your doctor about using efavirenz/emtricitabine/tenofovir safely.

Efavirenz/emtricitabine/tenofovir can commonly cause a rash that is usually not serious. However, you may not be able to tell it apart from a rare rash that could be a sign of a severe reaction. Therefore, seek immediate medical attention if you develop any rash.

Dizziness, trouble sleeping, drowsiness, unusual dreams, and trouble concentrating may frequently occur. These side effects may begin 1-2 days after starting this medication and usually go away in 2-4 weeks. They are also reduced by taking this medication on an empty stomach at bedtime.

Tiredness, headache, diarrhea, and skin discoloration (such as small spots/freckles, darkening of the palms of the hands/soles of the feet) may also occur.

If any of these effects persist or worsen, tell your doctor or pharmacist promptly.

As your immune system gets stronger, it can begin to fight off infections you already had, possibly causing disease symptoms to come back. You could also have symptoms if your immune system becomes overactive. This reaction may happen at any time (soon after starting HIV treatment or many months later). Get medical help right away if you have any serious symptoms, including: unexplained weight loss, severe tiredness, muscle aches/weakness that doesn't go away, headaches that are severe or don't go away, joint pain, numbness/tingling of the hands/feet/arms/legs, vision changes, signs of infection (such as fever, chills, swollen lymph nodes, trouble breathing, cough, non-healing skin sores), signs of an overactive thyroid (such as irritability, nervousness, heat intolerance, fast/pounding/irregular heartbeat, bulging eyes, unusual growth in the neck/thyroid known as a goiter), signs of a certain nerve problem known as Guillain-Barre syndrome (such as trouble breathing/swallowing/moving your eyes, drooping face, paralysis, trouble speaking).

Tell your doctor right away if any of these rare but serious side effects occur: mental/mood changes (such as depression, rare thoughts of suicide, strange thoughts, anxiety, angry behavior, hallucinations, confusion), loss of coordination, signs of kidney problems (such as a change in the amount of urine), unusual thirst, signs of pancreatitis (such as nausea, vomiting, stomach/abdominal/back pain, fever).

Rarely, this medication can cause severe (sometimes fatal) liver and blood problems (lactic acidosis). Tell your doctor right away if you develop symptoms of liver problems (such as nausea/vomiting that doesn't stop, loss of appetite, stomach/abdominal pain, yellowing eyes/skin, dark urine) or lactic acidosis (such as deep/rapid breathing, drowsiness, nausea/vomiting, unusual weakness).

Tenofovir may increase the risk of bone loss. Discuss the risks and benefits of treatment with your doctor, as well as the possible use of calcium and vitamin D to reduce this side effect. If you are at risk for bone loss, your doctor may monitor your bone mineral density. Tell your doctor right away if any of the following serious side effects occur: bone pain, easily broken bones.

Get medical help right away if you have any very serious side effects, including: fast/irregular heartbeat, severe dizziness, fainting.

This is not a complete list of possible side effects. If you notice other effects not listed above, contact your doctor or pharmacist.

What happens if I suddenly stop taking this medication?

There may be a relapse in symptoms as well as side effects. You should speak your doctor before stop taking this medication.

 

What is the best dosage to take?

The diagnosis with your doctor will be able to determine the best dosage for your treatment. Work with your doctor closely for dosage and dosing schedules.

 

What happens if I miss a dose?

You should take the missed dose as soon you realize you have forgotten. If the forgotten dose is closer to your next scheduled dose, take the next schedule dose to avoid overlapping in dose.

 

What is the best way to store this medication?

This medication is stored at room temperature, and should be kept away from children and pets. Do not throw away this medication in the wastebasket. If you are uncertain how to dispose of this medication speak with your pharmacist for help in safely disposing of this medication.

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