Efavirenz

Pronounced

"eh-FAV-er-enz"

Common brand names:

Sustiva

Uses

This drug 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. Efavirenz belongs to a class of drugs known as non-nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors (NNRTIs).

Efavirenz 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.

Other Uses

This section contains uses of this drug that are not listed in the approved professional labeling for the drug but that may be prescribed by your health care professional. Use this drug for a condition that is listed in this section only if it has been so prescribed by your health care professional.

This medication may also be used in combination with other HIV medications to reduce the risk of getting HIV infection after contact with the virus. Consult your doctor for more details.

How to Use This Medication

Read the Patient Information Leaflet if available from your pharmacist before you start taking efavirenz and each time you get a refill. If you have any questions regarding the information, consult your doctor or pharmacist.

Take this medication by mouth on an empty stomach, without food, usually once daily at bedtime or as directed by your doctor. Taking efavirenz with food increases the blood level of this medication, which may increase your risk of certain side effects. See Side Effects section.

Swallow this medication whole with water. If you have difficulty swallowing the capsule, it may be opened and the contents mixed gently in a small amount (1 to 2 teaspoons) of soft food such as applesauce, grape jelly, or yogurt. After taking the mixed medication, add 2 more teaspoons of food to the empty mixing container. Swallow the remaining mixture to make sure that you get the entire dose. Swallow within 30 minutes of mixing. Do not eat any food for 2 hours after taking this medication. For babies who cannot eat solid foods, the contents may be mixed in 2 teaspoons of infant formula and drawn up into an oral syringe to be given to the baby. (See Patient Information Leaflet.)

The dosage is based on your medical condition, response to treatment, and other medications you may be taking. Be sure to tell your doctor and pharmacist about all the products you use (including prescription drugs, nonprescription drugs, and herbal products). In children, the dosage is also based on weight.

It is very important to continue taking this medication (and other HIV medications) exactly as prescribed by your doctor. Do not skip any doses. Do not increase your dose, take this drug more often 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.

This medication works best when the amount of drug in your body is kept at a constant level. Therefore, take this drug at evenly spaced intervals. To help you remember, take it at the same time each day.

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