Combination Medications

  1. <a href"#nukes"="">Combinations of Reverse Transcriptase Inhibitors ("Nukes")
  2. Combinations of a Non-Nucleoside Reverse Transcriptase Inhibitor and Reverse Transcriptase Inhibitors
  3. Combinations With Protease Inhibitors
  4. Combinations With Integrase Inhibitors

What Are Combination Medications?

Combination medications are pills or tablets that contain more than one medication to fight HIV. They are listed in the tables below. Pharmaceutical companies have been working hard to make their medications easier to take. Part of this effort has been to combine more than one medication in a single pill. These combinations are referred to as fixed-dose combinations, or FDCs.

The first FDC to treat HIV was Combivir by ViiV Healthcare*, which includes 3 nukes. Some combination antiviral products are only available outside the US through the US President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR.) For more information, see Fact Sheet 925 or www.pepfar.gov. This fact sheet includes only products approved for sale in the United States.

Be sure that you do not take a combination medication along with any of its components! For example, do not take Truvada with tenofovir (Viread) or emtricitabine (Emtriva); do not take Combivir along with zidovudine (Retrovir) or lamivudine (Epivir.)

What Are PK Boosters?

When some medications are taken by mouth, their levels in the blood are very low. For them to fight HIV, they have to be taken at high doses. Another possibility is to "boost" their blood levels. This is done by slowing down the processing (metabolism) of these drugs. A drug that slows down the metabolism is called a "PK booster." PK stands for pharmacokinetic. This refers to the way that medications are processed by the body.

The first PK booster used in HIV was ritonavir by Abbott. Ritonavir slows down the metabolism of many drugs by the liver. This increases the blood levels of some anti-HIV medications so that a lower dose can be taken. However, it can also increase blood levels of many other drugs. In some cases, this can cause a harmful overdose.

A second PK booster by Gilead Sciences, cobicistat (GS-9350,) was approved in 2012 as part of Stribild (see Fact Sheet 473.) Other PK boosters are being developed.

<a name"nukes"="">1. Combinations of Reverse Transcriptase Inhibitors ("Nukes")

Year Approved*Generic NameTrade NameAlso known as:Manufacturer
1997Zidovudine/lamivudineCombivirAZT or ZDV & 3TCViiV Healthcare
2000Zidovudine/lamivudine/abacavirTrizivirAZT or ZDV, 3TC, AbacavirViiV Healthcare
2004Abacavir/lamivudineEpzicomZiagen and 3TCViiV Healthcare
2004Emtricitabine/tenofovirTruvadaEmtriva and VireadGilead Sciences

2. Combinations of a Non-Nucleoside Reverse Transcriptase Inhibitor and Reverse Transcriptase Inhibitors

Year Approved*Generic NameLTrade NameAlso known as:Manufacturer
2006Efavirenz/emtricitabine/tenofovirAtriplaSustiva, Emtriva and VireadBristol-Myers Squibb and Gilead
2011Emtricitabine/rilpivirine/tenofovirCompleraEmtriva, Edurant and VireadGilead and Tibotec

3. Combinations With Protease Inhibitors

NOTE: a small dose of ritonavir is used to boost blood levels of other protease inhibitors. The amount of ritonavir is not high enough to fight HIV.

Year*Generic NameTrade NameAlso Known As:Manufacturer
2000Lopinavir/ritonavirKaletra, AluviaLPVAbbott

4. Combinations With Integrase Inhibitors

(Note: a small dose of ritonavir or cobicistat is used to boost blood levels of the integrase inhibitor.)

Year*Generic NameTrade NameAlso Known As:Manufacturer
2012Elvitegravir/emtricitabine/tenofovir with cobicistatStribildQuadGilead Sciences

NOTE: There are many combination medications approved as part of the US President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief. For more information, see www.fda.gov/oia/pepfar.htm.

*Year of approval of the first version of the combination.