An Overview of Sustiva (Efavirenz, Stocrin)
October 16, 2017
Brand Name: Sustiva
Efavirenz can cause serious, life-threatening side effects. These include serious mental health problems, liver problems, and severe rash.
Contact your health care provider right away if you have any of the following symptoms that could be signs of mental health problems:
Worsening of liver disease (sometimes resulting in death) has occurred in people taking efavirenz, including people with hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection or hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection as well as people who have had no history of liver problems in the past. Liver function tests may be done before and during treatment with efavirenz.
Contact your health care provider right away if you have any of the following symptoms that could be signs of liver problems:
Skin rash is common when taking efavirenz and usually goes away within 4 weeks of beginning treatment, but it can also be severe. Contact your health care provider right away if you develop a rash -- with or without itching -- and any of the following symptoms:
Women should not become pregnant while taking efavirenz and for 12 weeks after stopping the medicine. Serious birth defects have been seen in the babies of animals and women treated with efavirenz during pregnancy. Whether efavirenz caused the birth defects is unknown.
While taking efavirenz, it is important to keep all of your appointments with your health care provider.
What Is Efavirenz?
Efavirenz is a prescription medicine approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the treatment of HIV infection in adults and in children 3 months of age and older who weigh at least 7 pounds 12 ounces (3.5 kilograms). Efavirenz is always used in combination with other HIV medicines.
Efavirenz belongs to a class (group) of HIV drugs called non-nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors (NNRTIs). NNRTIs attach to and block an HIV enzyme called reverse transcriptase. (An enzyme is a protein that starts or increases the speed of a chemical reaction.) By blocking reverse transcriptase, NNRTIs prevent HIV from multiplying and can reduce the amount of HIV in the body.
HIV medicines can't cure HIV/AIDS, but taking a combination of HIV medicines (called an HIV regimen) every day helps people with HIV live longer, healthier lives. HIV medicines also reduce the risk of HIV transmission. If you are taking HIV medicines, including efavirenz, don't cut down on, skip, or stop taking them unless your health care provider tells you to.
What Should I Tell My Health Care Provider Before Taking Efavirenz?
Before taking efavirenz, tell your health care provider:
How Should I Take Efavirenz?
Efavirenz (brand name: Sustiva) comes in the following forms and strengths:
Take efavirenz according to your health care provider's instructions.
Take efavirenz on an empty stomach, preferably at bedtime. Swallow efavirenz tablets and capsules whole with liquid. Do not take efavirenz with food.
Tell your health care provider if you or your child is unable to swallow tablets or capsules. Your health care provider can give you instructions on how to mix the contents of efavirenz capsules with soft food (or infant formula) to make the medicine easier to take.
Always take efavirenz in combination with other HIV medicines.
If you take too much efavirenz, contact your health care provider or local poison control center (1-800-222-1222) right away, or go to the nearest hospital emergency room.
For more information on how to take efavirenz, see the FDA drug label from DailyMed. (DailyMed is a federal website that includes the most recent drug labels submitted to FDA.)
What Should I Do If I Forget a Dose?
If you miss a dose of efavirenz, take the missed dose right away. But if it is almost time for your next dose, skip the missed dose and just take your next dose at the regular time. Do not take two doses at the same time to make up for a missed dose. If you need help planning the best time to take your medicine, ask your health care provider or pharmacist.
What Side Effects Can Efavirenz Cause?
Efavirenz may cause side effects. Many side effects from HIV medicines, such as nausea or occasional dizziness, are manageable. See the AIDSinfo fact sheet on HIV Medicines and Side Effects for more information.
Some side effects of efavirenz can be serious. Serious side effects of efavirenz include serious mental health problems, liver problems, and severe rash. (See the WARNING box above.)
Other possible side effects of efavirenz include:
Tell your health care provider if you have any side effect that bothers you or that does not go away.
These are not all the possible side effects of efavirenz. To learn more about possible side effects of efavirenz, read the drug label or package insert or talk to your health care provider or pharmacist.
You can report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088 (1-800-332-1088) or online at www.accessdata.fda.gov/scripts/medwatch/.
How Should Efavirenz Be Stored?
Where Can I Find More Information About Efavirenz?
More information about efavirenz is available:
The above Patient Version drug summary is based on the following FDA label(s): Capsule (gelatin coated), tablet (film coated).
[Note from TheBody.com: This article was created by AIDSinfo, who last updated it on Oct. 16, 2017. We have cross-posted it with their permission.]
This article was provided by AIDSinfo. Visit the AIDSinfo website to find out more about their activities and publications.
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