Emtricitabine can cause serious, life-threatening side effects. These include lactic acidosis (buildup of lactic acid in the blood) and serious liver problems.
Contact your health care provider right away if you have any of the following symptoms that could be signs of lactic acidosis:
Contact your health care provider right away if you have any of the following symptoms that could be signs of 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 HIV medicines.
Emtricitabine belongs to a class (group) of HIV drugs called nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors (NRTIs). NRTIs block an HIV enzyme called reverse transcriptase. (An enzyme is a protein that starts or increases the speed of a chemical reaction.) By blocking reverse transcriptase, NRTIs prevent HIV from multiplying and can reduce the amount of HIV in the body.
HIV medicines can’t cure HIV/AIDS, but taking a combination of HIV medicines (called an HIV regimen) every day helps people with HIV live longer, healthier lives. HIV medicines also reduce the risk of HIV transmission. If you are taking HIV medicines, including emtricitabine, don’t cut down on, skip, or stop taking them unless your health care provider tells you to.
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 the following forms and strengths:
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 HIV medicines.
If you take too much emtricitabine, contact your health care provider or local poison control center (1-800-222-1222) right away, or go to the nearest hospital emergency room.
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.)
If you miss a dose of emtricitabine, take the missed dose as soon as you remember it. But if it is almost time for your next dose, skip the missed dose and just take your next dose at the regular time. Do not take more than one dose of emtricitabine in a day. Do not take two doses at the same time to make up for a missed dose.
Emtricitabine can cause serious, life-threatening side effects. These include lactic acidosis (buildup of lactic 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. To learn more about possible side effects of emtricitabine, read the drug label or package insert or talk to your health care provider or pharmacist.
The AIDSinfo fact sheet on HIV Medicines and Side Effects also includes information that may apply to emtricitabine.
You can also report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088 (1-800-332-1088) or online at https://www.accessdata.fda.gov/scripts/medwatch/.
More information about emtricitabine is available:
Gilead Sciences, Inc.
Last Reviewed: September 9, 2015