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Emtricitabine

Generic Name: emtricitabine (EM-trye-SYE-ta-been)
Brand Name: Emtriva

Severe and sometimes fatal lactic acidosis (a buildup of lactic acid in the blood) and liver problems have occurred with this type of medicine. The risk may be greater in women, patients who are very overweight, or patients who have been taking nucleoside medicines (eg, emtricitabine, tenofovir) for a long time.

Tell your doctor right away if you develop symptoms of lactic acidosis (eg, unusual weakness or tiredness; unusual muscle pain; fast or difficult breathing; stomach pain with nausea and vomiting; feeling cold, especially in the arms and legs; dizziness or light-headedness; fast or irregular heartbeat). Tell your doctor right away if you develop symptoms of liver problems (eg, yellowing of the skin or eyes, dark urine, pale stools, persistent loss of appetite, nausea, stomach pain).

Emtricitabine is not approved to treat hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection. The safety and effectiveness of emtricitabine in patients who have both HBV and HIV infection have not been confirmed. Some patients with both HBV and HIV infection experience worsening of HBV infection after they stop taking emtricitabine. Patients who have both HBV and HIV infection need close medical follow-up to check for worsening liver problems for at least several months after they stop emtricitabine. Keep all doctor and lab appointments. Do not stop taking emtricitabine without checking with your doctor. Your doctor may need to prescribe other medicine if you experience worsening of your HBV infection.


Emtricitabine is used for:

Treating HIV infection. It must be used in combination with other HIV medicines. It may also be used for other conditions as determined by your doctor.

Emtricitabine is a nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitor (NRTI). It works by blocking the growth of HIV.

Do NOT use emtricitabine if:

  • you are allergic to any ingredient in emtricitabine
  • you are taking other medicines that contain emtricitabine or lamivudine

Contact your doctor or health care provider right away if any of these apply to you.

Slideshow: Flashback: FDA Drug Approvals 2013

Before using emtricitabine:

Some medical conditions may interact with emtricitabine. Tell your doctor or pharmacist if you have any medical conditions, especially if any of the following apply to you:

  • if you are pregnant, planning to become pregnant, or are breast-feeding
  • if you are taking any prescription or nonprescription medicine, herbal preparation, or dietary supplement
  • if you have allergies to medicines, foods, or other substances
  • if you have a history of lactic acidosis, or abnormal liver function tests or liver problems, including HBV infection
  • if you have kidney problems or if you are very overweight

Some MEDICINES MAY INTERACT with emtricitabine. However, no specific interactions with emtricitabine are known at this time.

Ask your health care provider if emtricitabine may interact with other medicines that you take. Check with your health care provider before you start, stop, or change the dose of any medicine.

How to use emtricitabine:

Use emtricitabine as directed by your doctor. Check the label on the medicine for exact dosing instructions.

  • An extra patient leaflet is available with emtricitabine. Talk to your pharmacist if you have questions about this information.
  • Take emtricitabine by mouth with or without food.
  • Do not suddenly stop taking emtricitabine without checking with your doctor. This may cause the virus to become less sensitive to this or other medicines. Some conditions (eg, hepatitis B) could become worse if you suddenly stop taking emtricitabine.
  • Taking emtricitabine at the same time each day will help you remember to take it.
  • Continue to take emtricitabine even if you feel well. Do not miss any doses.
  • If you miss a dose of emtricitabine, take it as soon as possible. If it is almost time for your next dose, skip the missed dose and go back to your regular dosing schedule. Do not take more than 1 dose in a day. Do not take 2 doses at once.

Ask your health care provider any questions you may have about how to use emtricitabine.

Important safety information:

  • Emtricitabine may cause dizziness. This effect may be worse if you take it with alcohol or certain medicines. Use emtricitabine with caution. Do not drive or perform other possibly unsafe tasks until you know how you react to it.
  • You should be tested for HBV infection before you start to take emtricitabine.
  • Do NOT take more than the recommended dose, change your dose, or stop taking emtricitabine without checking with your doctor.
  • Changes in body fat (eg, an increased amount of fat in the upper back, neck, breast, and trunk, and loss of fat from the legs, arms, and face) may occur in some patients taking medicines for HIV. The cause and long-term effects of these changes are unknown. Discuss any concerns with your doctor.
  • Emtricitabine may improve immune system function. This may reveal hidden infections in some patients. Tell your doctor right away if you notice symptoms of infection (eg, fever, sore throat, weakness, cough, shortness of breath) after you start emtricitabine.
  • When your medicine supply is low, get more from your doctor or pharmacist as soon as you can. Do not stop taking emtricitabine (or other HIV medicines), even for a short period of time. If you do, the virus may grow resistant to the medicine and become harder to treat.
  • Tell your doctor or dentist that you take emtricitabine before you receive any medical or dental care, emergency care, or surgery.
  • Emtricitabine is not a cure for HIV infection. Patients may still get illnesses and infections associated with HIV. Remain under the care of your doctor.
  • Emtricitabine does not stop the spread of HIV to others through blood or sexual contact. Do not have any kind of sex without protection (eg, latex or polyurethane condoms) if you have HIV infection. Do not share needles, injection supplies, or items like toothbrushes or razors. Talk with your health care provider about ways to prevent the spread of HIV to others.
  • Lab tests, including liver and kidney function, may be performed while you use emtricitabine. These tests may be used to monitor your condition or check for side effects. Be sure to keep all doctor and lab appointments.
  • Emtricitabine should be used with extreme caution in CHILDREN younger than 3 months old; safety and effectiveness in these children have not been confirmed.
  • PREGNANCY and BREAST-FEEDING: If you become pregnant, contact your doctor. You will need to discuss the benefits and risks of using emtricitabine while you are pregnant. Emtricitabine is found in breast milk. Do not breast-feed while taking emtricitabine. Mothers infected with HIV should not breast-feed. There is a risk of passing the HIV infection or emtricitabine to the baby.

Possible side effects of emtricitabine:

All medicines may cause side effects, but many people have no, or minor side effects. Check with your doctor if any of these most COMMON side effects persist or become bothersome:

Abnormal dreams; cough; darkened skin color on the palms of the hands or soles of the feet; diarrhea; dizziness; headache; indigestion; joint pain; mild stomach pain; nausea; nose or throat irritation; runny or stuffy nose; tiredness; trouble sleeping; vomiting; weakness.

Seek medical attention right away if any of these SEVERE side effects occur:

Severe allergic reactions (rash; hives; itching; difficulty breathing; tightness in the chest; swelling of the mouth, face, lips, or tongue); burning, numbness, or tingling; depression; ear pain or drainage; fever, chills, or persistent sore throat; severe or persistent cough; severe or persistent nausea or vomiting; severe or persistent stomach discomfort, pain, or tenderness; symptoms of lactic acidosis (eg, unusual weakness or tiredness; unusual muscle pain; fast or difficult breathing; stomach pain with nausea and vomiting; feeling cold, especially in the arms and legs; dizziness or light-headedness; fast or irregular heartbeat); symptoms of liver problems (eg, dark urine, pale stools, persistent loss of appetite, yellowing of the eyes or skin); unusual drowsiness.

This is not a complete list of all side effects that may occur. If you have questions about side effects, contact your health care provider. Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. To report side effects to the appropriate agency, please read the Guide to Reporting Problems to FDA.

If OVERDOSE is suspected:

Contact 1-800-222-1222 (the American Association of Poison Control Centers), your local poison control center, or emergency room immediately.

Proper storage of emtricitabine:

Store emtricitabine at room temperature, between 59 and 86 degrees F (15 and 30 degrees C). Store away from heat, moisture, and light. Do not store in the bathroom. Do not use emtricitabine if it is past the expiration date on the bottle. Keep emtricitabine out of the reach of children and away from pets.

General information:

  • If you have any questions about emtricitabine, please talk with your doctor, pharmacist, or other health care provider.
  • Emtricitabine is to be used only by the patient for whom it is prescribed. Do not share it with other people.
  • If your symptoms do not improve or if they become worse, check with your doctor.
  • Check with your pharmacist about how to dispose of unused medicine.

This information should not be used to decide whether or not to take emtricitabine or any other medicine. Only your health care provider has the knowledge and training to decide which medicines are right for you. This information does not endorse any medicine as safe, effective, or approved for treating any patient or health condition. This is only a brief summary of general information about emtricitabine. It does NOT include all information about the possible uses, directions, warnings, precautions, interactions, adverse effects, or risks that may apply to emtricitabine. This information is not specific medical advice and does not replace information you receive from your health care provider. You must talk with your healthcare provider for complete information about the risks and benefits of using emtricitabine.

Issue Date: September 3, 2014
Database Edition 14.3.1.003
Copyright © 2014 Wolters Kluwer Health, Inc.

Disclaimer: This information should not be used to decide whether or not to take this medicine or any other medicine. Only your health care provider has the knowledge and training to decide which medicines are right for you. This information does not endorse any medicine as safe, effective, or approved for treating any patient or health condition. This is only a brief summary of general information about this medicine. It does NOT include all information about the possible uses, directions, warnings, precautions, interactions, adverse effects, or risks that may apply to this medicine. This information is not specific medical advice and does not replace information you receive from your health care provider. You must talk with your healthcare provider for complete information about the risks and benefits of using this medicine.

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