Rarely, emtricitabine has caused a severe (sometimes fatal) liver and blood problem (lactic acidosis). Tell your doctor right away if you develop symptoms of liver problems (persistent nausea, stomach/abdominal pain, dark urine, yellowing eyes/skin) or lactic acidosis (rapid breathing, drowsiness, muscle aches).
This medication is not approved for the treatment of hepatitis B virus infection. If you have hepatitis B infection in addition to HIV, your hepatitis symptoms may get worse or become very serious if you stop taking emtricitabine. Talk with your doctor before stopping this medication. Your doctor will perform liver function tests for several months after you stop emtricitabine. Tell your doctor right away if you develop symptoms of worsening liver problems.
Emtricitabine is used with other HIV medications to help control HIV infection. It helps to decrease the amount of HIV in your body so your immune system can work better. This lowers your chance of getting HIV complications (such as new infections, cancer) and improves your quality of life. Emtricitabine belongs to a class of drugs known as nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors-NRTI.
Emtricitabine is not a cure for HIV infection. To decrease your risk of spreading HIV disease to others, do all of the following: (1) continue to take all HIV medications exactly as prescribed by your doctor, (2) always use an effective barrier method (latex or polyurethane condoms/dental dams) during all sexual activity, and (3) do not share personal items (such as needles/syringes, toothbrushes, and razors) that may have contacted blood or other body fluids. Consult your doctor or pharmacist for more details.
Take this medication by mouth, usually once daily with or without food or as directed by your doctor. If you are using the liquid form of this medication, carefully measure the dose using a special measuring device/spoon. Do not use a household spoon because you may not get the correct dose.
Dosage is based on your medical condition, dosage form (capsule or liquid), and response to treatment. In children, the dosage may also be based on weight. Do not switch between the capsule and liquid forms.
This medication works best when the amount of drug in your body is kept at a constant level. Therefore, take this drug at the same time each day.
Do not take more or less of this drug than prescribed or stop taking it (or other HIV medicines) even for a short time unless directed to do so by your doctor. Skipping or changing your dose without approval from your doctor may cause the amount of virus to increase, make the infection more difficult to treat (resistant), or worsen side effects.
See also Warning section.
Headache, nausea, diarrhea, trouble sleeping, or darkening skin color on palms of hands and soles of feet may occur. If any of these effects persist or worsen, notify your doctor or pharmacist promptly.
Remember that your doctor has prescribed this medication because he or she has judged that the benefit to you is greater than the risk of side effects. Many people using this medication do not have serious side effects.
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 unlikely but serious side effects occur: mental/mood changes (such as depression).
Changes in body fat (such as increased fat in the upper back and stomach areas, decreased fat in the arms and legs) may occur while you are taking HIV medication. The cause and long-term effects of these changes are unknown. Discuss the risks and benefits of therapy with your doctor, as well as the possible role of exercise to reduce this side effect.
A very serious allergic reaction to this drug is rare. However, seek immediate medical attention if you notice any symptoms of a serious allergic reaction, including: rash, itching/swelling (especially of the face/tongue/throat), severe dizziness, trouble breathing.
This is not a complete list of possible side effects. If you notice other effects not listed above, contact your doctor or pharmacist.
In the US -
Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088 or at www.fda.gov/medwatch.
In Canada - Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to Health Canada at 1-866-234-2345.
Before taking emtricitabine, tell your doctor or pharmacist if you are allergic to it; or if you have any other allergies. This product may contain inactive ingredients, which can cause allergic reactions or other problems. Talk to your pharmacist for more details.
Before having surgery, tell your doctors or dentist about all the products you use (including prescription drugs, nonprescription drugs, and herbal products).
Kidney function declines as you grow older. This medication is removed by the kidneys. Therefore, caution is advised when using this drug in older adults because they may be more sensitive to the effects of the drug.
During pregnancy, this medication should be used only when clearly needed. However, HIV medicines are now usually given to pregnant women with HIV. Treatment has been shown to decrease the risk of HIV transmission to the baby. Emtricitabine may be part of that treatment. Discuss the risks and benefits with your doctor.
Drug interactions may change how your medications work or increase your risk for serious side effects. This document does not contain all possible drug interactions. Keep a list of all the products you use (including prescription/nonprescription drugs and herbal products) and share it with your doctor and pharmacist. Do not start, stop, or change the dosage of any medicines without your doctor's approval.
A product that may interact with this drug is: orlistat.
Lamivudine is similar to emtricitabine and should not be taken with this medication. Check the labels on all your HIV medicines because they may contain the same ingredients as found in this product. Do not take other products that contain emtricitabine.
If someone has overdosed and has serious symptoms such as passing out or trouble breathing, call 911. Otherwise, call a poison control center right away. US residents can call their local poison control center at 1-800-222-1222. Canada residents can call a provincial poison control center.
Laboratory and/or medical tests (such as liver tests, viral load, T-cell counts) should be performed periodically to monitor your progress or check for side effects. Consult your doctor for more details.
Keep all medical and laboratory appointments.
If you miss a dose, take it as soon as you remember that day. If it is the next day or near the time of the next dose, skip the missed dose and resume your usual dosing schedule. Do not double the dose to catch up.
Store emtricitabine capsules at room temperature away from light and moisture. Do not store in the bathroom. Store emtricitabine oral solution in the refrigerator. Do not freeze. Emtricitabine solution may also be stored at room temperature, but in this case it must be used within 3 months. Keep all medications away from children and pets.
Do not flush medications down the toilet or pour them into a drain unless instructed to do so. Properly discard this product when it is expired or no longer needed. Consult your pharmacist or local waste disposal company.Information last revised December 2016. Copyright(c) 2016 First Databank, Inc.
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