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An Overview of Atripla (Efavirenz/Tenofovir/FTC)

August 23, 2013

ef-FAH-ver-enz / em-tri-SIT-uh-bean / te-NOE-fo-veer


Brand Name: Atripla
Other Name(s): EFV/FTC/TDF
Drug Class: Combination Drugs
Approved Use: Treatment of HIV Infection


Atripla can cause serious, life-threatening side effects. These include lactic acidosis (buildup of acid in the blood) and liver problems.

Contact your health care provider right away if you have any of the following symptoms that may signal lactic acidosis:

  • Weakness or tiredness.
  • Unusual (not normal) muscle pain.
  • Trouble breathing.
  • Stomach pain with nausea and vomiting.
  • Feeling cold, especially in your arms and legs.
  • Dizziness or lightheadedness.
  • Fast or irregular heartbeat.

Contact your health care provider right away if you have any of the following symptoms that may signal liver problems:

  • Yellowing of your skin or the whites of your eyes (jaundice).
  • Dark-colored urine.
  • Light-colored bowel movements.
  • Loss of appetite for several days or longer.
  • Nausea.
  • Pain in the stomach area (abdominal pain).

Atripla is not approved for the treatment of hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection. People coinfected with HIV and HBV who stopped taking emtricitabine or tenofovir disoproxil fumarate, which are two anti-HIV medicines included in Atripla, had severe worsening of their HBV infections.

While taking Atripla, it is important to keep all of your appointments with your health care provider.

What is Atripla?

Atripla is a prescription medicine approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the treatment of HIV infection in adults. Atripla can be used alone as a complete treatment regimen or in combination with other anti-HIV medicines.

Atripla contains the following three anti-HIV medicines combined in one pill: efavirenz, emtricitabine, and tenofovir disoproxil fumarate. Emtricitabine and tenofovir disoproxil fumarate are types of anti-HIV medicines called nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors (NRTIs). Efavirenz is a type of anti-HIV medicine called a non-nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitor (NNRTI). The three drugs in combination help block HIV reverse transcriptase, an HIV enzyme. This prevents HIV from replicating and lowers the amount of HIV in the blood.

Atripla does not cure HIV/AIDS. It is not known if Atripla reduces the risk of passing HIV to other people.

What should I tell my health care provider before taking Atripla?

Before taking Atripla, tell your health care provider:

  • If you are allergic to Atripla, to any one of the medicines in the combination pill, or to any other medicines.
  • If you have kidney problems or are undergoing kidney dialysis treatment.
  • If you have bone problems.
  • If you have liver problems, including HBV infection.
  • If you have ever had mental illness or are using drugs or alcohol.
  • If you have ever had seizures or are taking medicine for seizures.
  • If you have had a life-threatening skin reaction (for example, Stevens-Johnson syndrome).
  • If you are pregnant or planning to become pregnant. Tell your health care provider right away if you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant. Women should not become pregnant while taking Atripla and for 12 weeks after stopping it. Serious birth defects have been seen in the babies of animals and women treated with efavirenz (one of the medicines in the combination pill) during pregnancy. Whether efavirenz caused the birth defects is unknown.
  • If you are breastfeeding or plan to breastfeed. Do not breastfeed if you are infected with HIV or are taking Atripla..
  • If you are taking birth control pills. Atripla can reduce the effectiveness of birth control pills.
  • About other prescription and nonprescription medicines, vitamins, nutritional supplements, and herbal products you are taking or plan to take. Atripla may affect the way other medicines or products work, and other medicines or products may affect how Atripla works. Taking Atripla together with certain medicines or products may cause serious and/or life-threatening side effects.

How should I take Atripla?

Atripla comes in tablet form. Each tablet contains:

  • 600 mg efavirenz (brand name: Sustiva).
  • 200 mg emtricitabine (brand name: Emtriva).
  • 300 mg tenofovir disoproxil fumarate (brand name: Viread).

Take Atripla according to your health care provider's instructions.

Take Atripla on an empty stomach and without food, preferably at bedtime. Swallow the pill with water.

If you take too much Atripla, contact your local poison control center (1-800-222-1222) or go to the nearest hospital emergency room right away.

For more information on how to take Atripla, 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?

Take the missed dose as soon as you remember it. 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.

What side effects can Atripla cause?

Atripla can cause serious, life-threatening side effects. These include lactic acidosis (buildup of acid in the blood) and liver problems. (See the WARNING above).

Other possible side effects of Atripla include:

  • Serious psychiatric problems (including suicidal thoughts).
  • Kidney problems, including kidney failure.
  • Thinning of the bones (osteopenia).
  • Changes in body fat (lipodystrophy).
  • Skin discoloration (small spots or freckles).
  • Changes in the immune system (immune reconstitution inflammatory syndrome [IRIS]).
  • Rash. A rash can be serious, so contact your health care provider right away if you develop a rash.
  • Inflammation of the pancreas (pancreatitis).
  • Allergic reactions.

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 Atripla. Ask your health care provider or pharmacist for more information on side effects of Atripla.

How should Atripla be stored?

  • Store Atripla at room temperature, 77°F (25°C).
  • Keep Atripla in its original container and keep the container tightly closed.
  • Throw away Atripla that is no longer needed or expired (out of date).
  • Keep Atripla and all medicines out of reach of children.

Where can I find more information about Atripla?

More information about Atripla is available:

Manufacturer Information

Bristol-Myers Squibb

Gilead Sciences

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This article was provided by AIDSinfo. Visit the AIDSinfo website to find out more about their activities and publications.
See Also
More on HIV Medications
More on Atripla (Efavirenz/Tenofovir/FTC)


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