Generic Name: efavirenz (e FAV ir enz)
Brand Name: Sustiva
What is efavirenz?
Efavirenz is used to treat HIV, the virus that can cause acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS). Efavirenz is for adults and children who are at least 3 months old and weigh at least 8 pounds. Efavirenz is not a cure for HIV or AIDS.
Efavirenz may also be used for purposes not listed in this medication guide.
Before taking this medicine
You should not use this medicine if you have ever had a severe allergic reaction to efavirenz. Do not take with Atripla (combination efavirenz, emtricitabine, and tenofovir), unless your doctor tells you to.
To make sure efavirenz is safe for you, tell your doctor if you have:
a history of mental illness, injection drug use, or taking an anti-psychotic medicine;
heart disease or long QT syndrome;
high cholesterol or triglycerides; or
Do not use efavirenz if you are pregnant. It could harm the unborn baby. Use 2 forms of birth control, including a barrier form (such as a condom or diaphragm with spermicide gel) while you are taking efavirenz, and for at least 12 weeks after your last dose. Tell your doctor if you become pregnant during treatment.
Hormonal contraception (birth control pills, injections, implants, skin patches, and vaginal rings) may not be effective enough to prevent pregnancy while you are taking efavirenz.
HIV can be passed to your baby if you are not properly treated during pregnancy. Take all of your HIV medicines as directed to control your infection.
Women with HIV or AIDS should not breast-feed a baby. Even if your baby is born without HIV, the virus may be passed to the baby in your breast milk.
How should I take efavirenz?
Follow all directions on your prescription label. Do not take this medicine in larger or smaller amounts or for longer than recommended.
Efavirenz must be given in combination with other antiviral medications and it should not be used alone. Your disease may become resistant to efavirenz if you do not take it in combination with other HIV medicines your doctor has prescribed.
Take efavirenz on an empty stomach at bedtime.
To make swallowing easier, you may open an efavirenz capsule and sprinkle the medicine into a spoonful of applesauce, yogurt, or grape jelly. You may also mix the medicine with infant formula if you are giving the medicine to a baby. Swallow the mixture right away. Do not save it for later use.
After taking efavirenz using the sprinkle method, do not eat for the next 2 hours. Efavirenz mixed with infant formula should be given to the baby right away. But do not feed the baby any more formula for at least 2 hours afterward.
Efavirenz comes with instructions for mixing the capsule contents with soft food or infant formula. Follow these directions carefully. Ask your pharmacist if you have any questions.
Do not crush, chew, or break an efavirenz tablet. Swallow it whole with liquid.
While using efavirenz, you may need frequent blood tests.
Efavirenz can cause you to have a false positive drug screening test. If you provide a urine sample for drug screening, tell the laboratory staff that you are taking efavirenz.
If a child is using this medicine, tell your doctor if the child has any changes in weight. Efavirenz doses are based on weight in children, and any changes may affect your child's dose.
Take efavirenz regularly to get the most benefit. Get your prescriptions refilled before you run out of medicine completely. Skipping doses may increase the risk of your virus becoming resistant to antiviral medicine.
Store at room temperature away from moisture and heat.
Read the medication guide provided with all your medications. Do not change your doses or medication schedule without your doctor's advice. Every person with HIV or AIDS should remain under the care of a doctor.
What happens if I miss a dose?
Take the missed dose as soon as you remember. Skip the missed dose if it is almost time for your next scheduled dose. Do not take extra medicine to make up the missed dose.
What happens if I overdose?
Seek emergency medical attention or call the Poison Help line at 1-800-222-1222.
What should I avoid while taking efavirenz?
Efavirenz may impair your thinking or reactions. Be careful if you drive or do anything that requires you to be alert.
Drinking alcohol can increase certain side effects of efavirenz.
Taking this medication will not prevent you from passing HIV to other people. Do not have unprotected sex or share razors or toothbrushes. Talk with your doctor about safe ways to prevent HIV transmission during sex. Sharing drug or medicine needles is never safe, even for a healthy person.
Efavirenz side effects
Get emergency medical help if you have signs of an allergic reaction: hives; difficult breathing; swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat.
Call your doctor at once if you have:
a seizure (convulsions);
severe skin reaction--fever, sore throat, swelling in your face or tongue, redness or burning in your eyes, skin pain, followed by a red or purple skin rash that spreads (especially in the face or upper body) and causes blistering and peeling.
Efavirenz may cause serious psychiatric symptoms including confusion, severe depression (feeling sad or hopeless), suicidal thoughts, anxiety, paranoia, hallucinations, trouble speaking or moving, or unusual behavior. Contact your doctor at once if you have any of these side effects, even if you have had them before.
Efavirenz may increase your risk of certain infections or autoimmune disorders by changing the way your immune system works. Symptoms may occur weeks or months after you start treatment with efavirenz. Tell your doctor if you have:
chest pain (especially when you breathe), dry cough, wheezing, feeling short of breath;
cold sores, sores on your genital or anal area;
rapid heart rate, feeling anxious or irritable, weakness or prickly feeling, problems with balance or eye movement;
trouble speaking or swallowing, severe lower back pain, loss of bladder or bowel control; or
swelling in your neck or throat (enlarged thyroid), menstrual changes, impotence, loss of interest in sex.
Common side effects may include:
dizziness, drowsiness, trouble concentrating;
mild skin rash;
headache, tired feeling;
sleep problems (insomnia), strange dreams; or
changes in the shape or location of body fat (especially in your arms, legs, face, neck, breasts, and waist).
This is not a complete list of side effects and others may occur. Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.
See also: Side effects (in more detail)
What other drugs will affect efavirenz?
Efavirenz may cause a serious heart problem if you use certain medicines at the same time, including antibiotics, antidepressants, antipsychotic medicines, stomach acid reducers, heart rhythm medicine, and medicines to treat cancer, or malaria. Tell your doctor about all medicines you use, and those you start or stop using during your treatment with efavirenz.
Many drugs can interact with efavirenz. Not all possible interactions are listed here. Tell your doctor about all your current medicines and any you start or stop using, especially:
any other HIV or AIDS medications;
an antibiotic or antifungal medicine;
heart or blood pressure medicine;
hepatitis C medication;
medicine to prevent organ transplant rejection; or
This list is not complete and many other drugs can interact with efavirenz. This includes prescription and over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, and herbal products. Give a list of all your medicines to any healthcare provider who treats you.
More about Sustiva (efavirenz)
- Side Effects
- During Pregnancy or Breastfeeding
- Dosage Information
- Drug Images
- Drug Interactions
- Compare Alternatives
- Support Group
- Pricing & Coupons
- En Español
- 5 Reviews – Add your own review/rating
- Generic Availability
- Drug class: NNRTIs
Related treatment guides
Where can I get more information?
- Your pharmacist can provide more information about efavirenz.
- Remember, keep this and all other medicines out of the reach of children, never share your medicines with others, and use this medication only for the indication prescribed.
- Disclaimer: Every effort has been made to ensure that the information provided by Cerner Multum, Inc. ('Multum') is accurate, up-to-date, and complete, but no guarantee is made to that effect. Drug information contained herein may be time sensitive. Multum information has been compiled for use by healthcare practitioners and consumers in the United States and therefore Multum does not warrant that uses outside of the United States are appropriate, unless specifically indicated otherwise. Multum's drug information does not endorse drugs, diagnose patients or recommend therapy. Multum's drug information is an informational resource designed to assist licensed healthcare practitioners in caring for their patients and/or to serve consumers viewing this service as a supplement to, and not a substitute for, the expertise, skill, knowledge and judgment of healthcare practitioners. The absence of a warning for a given drug or drug combination in no way should be construed to indicate that the drug or drug combination is safe, effective or appropriate for any given patient. Multum does not assume any responsibility for any aspect of healthcare administered with the aid of information Multum provides. The information contained herein is not intended to cover all possible uses, directions, precautions, warnings, drug interactions, allergic reactions, or adverse effects. If you have questions about the drugs you are taking, check with your doctor, nurse or pharmacist.
Copyright 1996-2012 Cerner Multum, Inc. Version: 16.08.
Date modified: February 01, 2018
Last reviewed: February 22, 2017