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.
How to use Efavirenz Capsule
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.
For the best effect, take this medication at evenly spaced times. To help you remember, take this medication at the same time every day.
Dizziness, trouble sleeping, drowsiness, unusual dreams, and trouble concentrating may frequently occur. Theseside effects may begin 1-2 days after starting this medication and usually go away in 2-4 weeks. They are also reduced by taking efavirenz on an empty stomach at bedtime. Avoid alcohol and street drugs while taking efavirenz. They may worsen these side effects.
Tiredness, headache, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea may also occur.
If any of these effects persist or worsen, tell 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).
Infrequently, serious psychiatric symptoms may occur during efavirenz treatment, although it is unclear if they are caused by efavirenz. These effects may be seen especially in people who have mental/mood conditions. Tell your doctor right away if any of these unlikely but serious side effects occur: mental/mood changes (such as depression, rare thoughts of suicide, nervousness, angry behavior, hallucinations).
Tell your doctor right away if any of these rare but serioussigns of liver problems (such as persistent nausea/vomiting, stomach/abdominal pain, severe tiredness, yellowing eyes/skin, dark urine).
Changes in body fat may occur while you are taking this medication (such as increased fat in the upper back and stomach areas, decreased fat in the arms and legs). The cause and long-term effects of these changes are unknown. Discuss the risks and benefits of treatment with your doctor, as well as the possible use of exercise to reduce this side effect.
Get medical help right away if you have any very serious side effects, including: fast/irregular heartbeat, severe dizziness, fainting.