Tenofovir is a prescription drug. It comes as an oral tablet and oral powder.
Tenofovir oral tablet is available as a generic drug and as the brand-name drugs Viread and Vemlidy.
This drug is used as part of a combination therapy. That means you’ll likely take this drug in combination with other drugs to treat your condition.
Why it’s used
Tenofovir is used to treat:
- HIV infection, in combination with other antiretroviral drugs. This drug doesn’t eliminate the virus entirely, but it helps to control it.
- chronic hepatitis B virus infection.
How it works
Tenofovir belongs to a class of drugs called nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors (NRTIs). It’s also a hepatitis B virus reverse transcriptase inhibitor (RTI). A class of drugs is a group of medications that work in a similar way. These drugs are often used to treat similar conditions.
Tenofovir works in the same way for both HIV infection and chronic hepatitis B virus infections. It blocks the effectiveness of reverse transcriptase, an enzyme required for each virus to make copies of itself. Blocking reverse transcriptase can reduce the amount of the virus in your blood.
Tenofovir can also increase CD4 cell count. CD4 cells are white blood cells that fight infection.
Tenofovir oral tablet doesn’t cause drowsiness, but it can cause other side effects.
More common side effects
The more common side effects that occur with tenofovir include:
- back pain
- trouble sleeping
- nausea or vomiting
If these effects are mild, they may go away within a few days or a couple of weeks. If they’re more severe or don’t go away, talk to your doctor or pharmacist.
Serious side effects
Call your doctor right away if you have serious side effects. Call 911 if your symptoms feel life-threatening or if you think you’re having a medical emergency. Serious side effects and their symptoms can include the following:
- Lactic acidosis. Symptoms can include:
- muscle pain
- stomach pain with nausea and vomiting
- irregular or rapid heartbeat
- trouble breathing
- feelings of coldness in the legs or arms
- Liver enlargement. Symptoms can include:
- dark urine
- abdominal pain or discomfort
- yellowing skin
- Worsening hepatitis B virus infection. Symptoms can include:
- abdominal pain
- dark urine
- yellowing of the skin and the whites of your eyes (jaundice)
- Decreased bone mineral density
- Immune reconstitution syndrome. Symptoms can include those of past infections.
- Kidney damage and reduced kidney function. This can happen slowly without many symptoms, or cause symptoms such as: