Emtricitabine can cause serious, life-threatening side effects. These include lactic acidosis (buildup of acid in the blood) and serious liver problems.
Contact your health care provider right away if you have any of the following symptoms that may signal lactic acidosis:
Contact your health care provider right away if you have any of the following symptoms that may signal liver problems:
Emtricitabine is not approved for the treatment of hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection. People infected with HBV who take emtricitabine and then stop taking it may get severe worsening of their HBV infections. For information about the “off-label” use of emtricitabine to treat HBV infection in people who are also receiving combination antiretroviral therapy (ART) for HIV infection, see the “What is emtricitabine?” section below. (“Off-label” use refers to use of a U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-approved medicine in a manner different from that described on the medicine label.)
While taking emtricitabine, it is important to keep all of your appointments with your health care provider.
Emtricitabine is a prescription medicine approved by FDA for the treatment of HIV infection in adults, children, and infants. Emtricitabine is always used in combination with other anti-HIV medicines.
Emtricitabine is a type of anti-HIV medicine called a nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitor (NRTI). NRTIs work by blocking HIV reverse transcriptase, an HIV enzyme. This prevents HIV from replicating and lowers the amount of HIV in the blood.
Emtricitabine does not cure HIV/AIDS. It is not known if emtricitabine reduces the risk of passing HIV to other people.
Emtricitabine can also be used “off-label” to treat hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection, an opportunistic infection of HIV infection.
The Guidelines for the Prevention and Treatment of Opportunistic Infections in HIV-Infected Adults and Adolescents, prepared by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the National Institutes of Health (NIH), and the HIV Medicine Association of the Infectious Diseases Society of America (IDSA-HIVMA), includes recommendations for the “off-label” use of emtricitabine to treat HBV infection in people who are also receiving combination ART for HIV infection. In addition to emtricitabine, the ART regimen should include another drug that is effective against both HBV and HIV. Emtricitabine should not be used to treat HBV in HIV-infected individuals who are not receiving ART.
Before taking emtricitabine, tell your health care provider:
Emtricitabine comes in two different forms:
Take emtricitabine according to your health care provider’s instructions.
Take emtricitabine by mouth, with or without food.
Always take emtricitabine in combination with other anti-HIV medicines.
If you take too much emtricitabine, contact your local poison control center (1-800-222-1222) or go to the nearest hospital emergency room right away.
For more information on how to take emtricitabine, see the FDA drug label from DailyMed. (DailyMed is a federal website that includes the most recent drug labels submitted to FDA.)
Take the missed dose as soon as you remember it. If it is almost time for the next dose, skip the missed dose and continue your regular dosing schedule. Do not take more than one dose of emtricitabine in a day. Do not take a double dose to make up for a dose you missed.
Emtricitabine can cause serious, life-threatening side effects. These include lactic acidosis (buildup of acid in the blood) and serious liver problems. (See the WARNING above.)
Other possible side effects of emtricitabine include:
Tell your health care provider if you have any side effect that bothers you or that does not go away.
These are not all the possible side effects of emtricitabine. Ask your health care provider or pharmacist for more information on possible side effects of emtricitabine.
More information about emtricitabine is available:
Last Reviewed: May 7, 2014
Last Updated: May 7, 2014