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Generic Name: Efavirenz (eh-FAV-er-enz)
Brand Name: Sustiva

Efavirenz is used for:

Treating HIV infection in combination with other medicines. If Efavirenz is taken alone to treat HIV, it may stop working.

Efavirenz is a non-nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitor (NNRTI). It works by blocking the growth of HIV.

Do NOT use Efavirenz if:

  • you are allergic to any ingredient in Efavirenz
  • you are taking astemizole, benzodiazepines (eg, midazolam, triazolam), cisapride, ergot medicines (eg, ergotamine), H1 antagonists (eg, loratadine), terfenadine, or voriconazole

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

Before using Efavirenz :

Some medical conditions may interact with Efavirenz . 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, breast-feeding, or of childbearing age
  • 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 liver or kidney problems

Some MEDICINES MAY INTERACT with Efavirenz . Tell your health care provider if you are taking any other medicines, especially any of the following:

  • Benzodiazepines (eg, midazolam), cisapride, ergot alkaloids (eg, ergotamine), H1 antagonists (eg, loratadine), or HIV protease inhibitors (eg, ritonavir) because the actions and side effects may be increased by Efavirenz
  • Cyclosporine, macrolide antibiotics (eg, erythromycin), methadone, HIV protease inhibitors (eg, ritonavir), rifabutin, sertraline, or voriconazole because the effectiveness may be decreased by Efavirenz
  • Nevirapine, rifampin, or St. John"s wort because the effectiveness of Efavirenz may be decreased

This may not be a complete list of all interactions that may occur. Ask your health care provider if Efavirenz 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 Efavirenz :

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

  • Take Efavirenz on an empty stomach at least 1 hour before or 2 hours after eating. Taking Efavirenz with food, especially with a high-fat meal, may lead to increased blood levels of Efavirenz . This may increase your risk for side effects.
  • Efavirenz comes with an additional patient leaflet. Read it carefully and reread it each time you get Efavirenz refilled.
  • Take Efavirenz with a full glass (8 oz/ 240 mL) of water.
  • Take Efavirenz at the same time(s) every day, preferably at bedtime unless otherwise directed by your doctor.
  • Continue to use Efavirenz even if you feel well. Do not miss any doses.
  • If you miss a dose of Efavirenz , take it as soon as you remember. If it is within 2 hours of your next dose, skip the missed dose and go back to your regular dosing schedule. It is important not to miss does of Efavirenz . Do not take 2 doses at once.

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

Important safety information:

  • Efavirenz may cause drowsiness or dizziness. Do not drive, operate machinery, or do anything else that could be dangerous until you know how you react to Efavirenz . Using Efavirenz alone, with certain other medicines, or with alcohol may lessen your ability to drive or to perform other potentially dangerous tasks.
  • Do not drink alcohol or take other medications that cause drowsiness (eg, sedatives, tranquilizers) while taking Efavirenz . Efavirenz will add to the effects of alcohol and other depressants. Ask your pharmacist if you have questions about which medicines are depressants.
  • Do not take more of Efavirenz than prescribed by your doctor. Taking more medicine than prescribed may not provide additional benefits and may increase the risks of side effects.
  • Efavirenz is not a cure for HIV infection and you may continue to acquire illnesses/infections associated with HIV infection (the virus that causes AIDS). Remain under the care of your health care provider.
  • Efavirenz offers no protection from the transmission of HIV to other through sexual contact or blood contamination. Use barrier forms of contraception (eg, condoms) if you are infected with HIV.
  • Efavirenz will not prevent you from getting sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). Always use a condom during sexual intercourse.
  • If your health changes, check with your doctor.
  • Changes in body fat may occur while you are taking Efavirenz (eg, 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 therapy with your doctor, as well as the possible role of exercise to reduce this side effect.
  • Efavirenz may interfere with certain lab tests (eg, cannabinoids/marijuana false-positive result).
  • Talk to your doctor about whether you should have a pregnancy test before you begin taking Efavirenz .
  • Efavirenz may decrease the effectiveness of your birth control pill. Discuss the use of appropriate birth control, including condoms, with your doctor. Pregnancy should be avoided while taking Efavirenz . If you become pregnant while taking Efavirenz , contact your doctor immediately.
  • LAB TESTS, including liver function, may be performed to monitor your progress or to check for side effects. Be sure to keep all doctor and lab appointments.
  • Use Efavirenz with extreme caution in CHILDREN younger than 3 years of age. Safety and effectiveness in this age group have not been confirmed.
  • PREGNANCY and BREAST-FEEDING: Efavirenz may cause harm to the fetus. Avoid becoming pregnant while taking Efavirenz . If you think you may be pregnant, discuss with your doctor the benefits and risks of using Efavirenz during pregnancy. It is unknown if Efavirenz is excreted in breast milk. HIV-infected mothers should not breast-feed their infants because of the risk of transmitting the HIV infection or Efavirenz .

Possible side effects of Efavirenz :

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; changes in body fat; diarrhea; dizziness; drowsiness; headache; trouble concentrating; trouble sleeping.

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

Severe allergic reactions (rash; hives; difficulty breathing; tightness in the chest; swelling of the mouth, face, lips, or tongue); bizarre behavior; change in personality, behavior, mood, or emotions; dark urine or pale stools; delusions; hallucinations; memory loss; mouth sores; paranoia; rash with or without fever; severe depression; suicidal thoughts or behaviors; unusual fatigue; vision changes; yellowing of the skin or eyes.

This is not a complete list of all side effects that may occur. If you have questions or need medical advice about side effects, contact your doctor or health care provider. You may report side effects to the FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088 (1-800-332-1088) or at http://www.fda.gov/medwatch.

If OVERDOSE is suspected:

Contact 1-800-222-1222 (the American Association of Poison Control Centers), your local poison control center (http://www.aapcc.org/findyour.htm), or emergency room immediately. Symptoms may include muscle twitching.

Proper storage of Efavirenz :

Store Efavirenz at room temperature, between 59 and 86 degrees F (15 and 30 degrees C), in a tightly closed container. Store away from heat, moisture, and light. Do not store in the bathroom. Keep Efavirenz out of the reach of children and away from pets.

General information:

  • If you have any questions about Efavirenz , please talk with your doctor, pharmacist, or other health care provider.
  • Efavirenz 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.

This information is a summary only. It does not contain all information about Efavirenz . If you have questions about the medicine you are taking or would like more information, check with your doctor, pharmacist, or other health care provider.

Issue Date: November 1, 2006
Database Edition
Copyright © 2006 Wolters Kluwer Health, Inc.

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