Can you drink alcohol while taking Epclusa?
Medically reviewed by Carmen Fookes, BPharm. Last updated on Oct 30, 2020.
- Although drinking alcohol is not strictly contraindicated with Epclusa treatment, it should be avoided. However, one beer every now and then is unlikely to affect the outcome of treatment.
- Alcohol may increase the risk of side effects with Epclusa, such as nausea, diarrhea, fatigue, and headache.
- Alcohol itself can also cause liver inflammation and liver scarring (cirrhosis). Drinking alcohol while taking Epclusa may increase the risk of cirrhosis and liver failure.
Although drinking alcohol is not strictly contraindicated with Epclusa treatment, it should be avoided.
Alcohol can increase the side effects of Epclusa, such as: headache nausea diarrhea fatigue inflammation and scarring in the liver. Alcohol may also make you forget to take your medication on time and interfere with your ability to stick to your treatment plan. Missing doses could make Epclusa less effective in treating your HCV.
If you find it hard to cut out alcohol completely, talk to your doctor. However, minimal drinking (one beer) every now and then is unlikely to affect the outcome of your treatment.
What is Epclusa?
Epclusa contains two antiviral ingredients, sofosbuvir and velpatasvir, and may be used to treat chronic hepatitis C in adults and children over the age of six.
Epclusa is usually given as a single dose once daily with food. Cure rates of over 95-97% have been reported, depending on the HCV genotype and other factors (such as prior treatment).
Epclusa is manufactured by Gilead Sciences Ltd and there is a generic version of Epclusa called velpatasvir and sofosbuvir oral tablets (manufactured by Asegua Therapeutics LLC).
How does Epclusa work?
Sofosbuvir interferes with the reproduction of genetic material of the hepatitis C virus, by inhibiting an RNA-dependent polymerase called HCV NS5B, which is also needed by the virus to replicate itself. Sofosbuvir is a prodrug, which means it is metabolized in the body to its active component and incorporated into the DNA of the HCV virus. Sofosbuvir also works directly on viral RNA and does not inhibit human DNA or RNA.
Velpatasvir is an NS5A (hepatitis C virus nonstructural protein 5A) inhibitor. Velpatasvir works by interfering with a protein, called HCV NS5A that is needed by the virus to replicate itself. This protein is the main target for velpatasvir, meaning velpatasvir works directly on the virus, not on human cells.
- Epclusa (velpatasvir and sofosbuvir) Gilead Sciences, Inc. https://www.drugs.com/pro/epclusa.html
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