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Emtricitabine / Tenofovir Alafenamide

Emtricitabine / Tenofovir Alafenamide

Brand Name: Descovy Other Names: FTC / TAF, emtricitabine / tenofovir AF, emtricitabine / tenofovir alafenamide fumarate Drug Class: Combination Drugs

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What are the most important things to know about Descovy?

What are the most important things to know about Descovy?

Descovy can cause serious, life-threatening side effects. These include a buildup of lactic acid in the blood (lactic acidosis) and severe liver problems.

Contact your health care provider right away if you have any of the following symptoms that could be signs of lactic acidosis:
  • Weakness or tiredness
  • Unusual muscle pain
  • Shortness of breath or fast breathing
  • Stomach pain with nausea and vomiting
  • Cold or blue hands and feet
  • Dizziness or lightheadedness
  • Fast or irregular heartbeat
Contact your health care provider right away if you have any of the following symptoms that could be signs of severe liver problems:
  • Yellowing of your skin or the whites of your eyes (jaundice)
  • Dark-colored urine
  • Light-colored bowel movements
  • Loss of appetite for several days or longer
  • Nausea
  • Pain in your stomach area

Descovy is not approved for the treatment of chronic hepatitis B virus infection (HBV). If you have both HIV and HBV infection and take Descovy, your HBV infection may get much worse (flare up) if you stop taking Descovy.

Do not take Descovy to reduce the risk of getting HIV—also called pre-exposure prophylaxis or PrEP—unless you are confirmed to be HIV negative.

While taking Descovy, it is important to keep all of your appointments with your health care provider.

What is Descovy?

What is Descovy?

Descovy is a prescription medicine approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the treatment of HIV infection in adults and children who weigh at least 77 lb (35 kg) when used together with other HIV medicines. It is also approved for children who weigh at least 55 lb (25 kg) and less than 77 lb (35 kg) when used together with certain other HIV medicines.

Descovy has also been approved to reduce the risk of HIV infection in adults and adolescents who weigh at least 77 lb (35 kg), who do not have HIV, and who are at high risk of getting HIV. This method to prevent HIV infection is called pre-exposure prophylaxis or PrEP. Descovy for PrEP should always be used in combination with safer sex practices, such as the use of condoms. Descovy is not approved for use as PrEP in people who are at risk of getting HIV from receptive vaginal sex. Read the AIDSinfo fact sheet on PrEP for more information, including information on who should consider taking PrEP.

Descovy contains two different medicines: emtricitabine and tenofovir alafenamide.

HIV medicines can’t cure HIV/AIDS, but taking HIV medicines 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, don’t cut down on, skip, or stop taking them unless your health care provider tells you to.

What should I tell my health care provider before taking Descovy?

What should I tell my health care provider before taking Descovy?

Before taking Descovy, tell your health care provider:

  • If you are allergic to any of the HIV medicines in Descovy (emtricitabine or tenofovir alafenamide) or any other medicines.
  • If you have liver problems, including hepatitis B virus infection (HBV). Before taking Descovy, you must be tested for HBV infection.
  • If you have kidney problems.
  • If you have any other medical conditions.
  • If you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant. Talk to your health care provider about the risks and benefits of taking Descovy during pregnancy.
  • If you are breastfeeding or plan to breastfeed. Do not breastfeed if you have HIV or are taking Descovy.
  • If you are using hormone-based birth control (such as pills, implants, or vaginal rings). For more information about using birth control and HIV medicines at the same time, view the AIDSinfo HIV and Birth Control infographic.
  • About other prescription and nonprescription medicines, vitamins, nutritional supplements, and herbal products (particularly St. John’s wort) you are taking or plan to take. Descovy may affect the way other medicines or products work, and other medicines or products may affect how Descovy works. Taking Descovy together with certain medicines or products may cause serious side effects.

Before taking Descovy to reduce your risk of getting HIV, you must get tested to be sure that you do not have HIV. Do not take Descovy to reduce the risk of getting HIV unless you are confirmed to be HIV negative.

Before taking Descovy for PrEP, also tell your health care provider:

  • If you had a flu-like illness within the last month before starting Descovy (or at any time while taking Descovy). Flu-like symptoms can be an early sign of HIV infection. Symptoms of recent HIV infection include tiredness, fever, nighttime sweating, rash, vomiting, diarrhea, joint or muscle aches, headache, sore throat, or enlarged lymph nodes in the neck or groin.
  • If you think that you were exposed to HIV. Your health care provider may want to do more tests to be sure that you are still HIV negative.

While taking Descovy for PrEP, you will get tested for HIV at least every 3 months.

How should I take Descovy?

How should I take Descovy?

Descovy comes in tablet form. Each tablet contains:

Take Descovy according to your health care provider’s instructions.

Take Descovy once each day with or without food.

If you take Descovy for PrEP, take it every day and not just when you think that you were exposed to HIV. Always use PrEP with condoms and other safer sex practices.

If you take too much Descovy, 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 Descovy, see the FDA drug label.

What should I do if I forget a dose?

What should I do if I forget a dose?

If you miss a dose of Descovy, 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 two doses at the same time to make up for a missed dose.

What side effects can Descovy cause?

What side effects can Descovy cause?

Descovy may cause side effects. Many side effects from HIV medicines, such as nausea or occasional dizziness, are manageable. See the AIDSinfo fact sheet on HIV Medicines and Side Effects for more information.

Some side effects from Descovy can be serious. Serious side effects of Descovy include a buildup of lactic acid in the blood (lactic acidosis) and severe liver problems. (See section above: What are the most important things to know about Descovy?)

Other possible side effects of Descovy include:

  • Changes in your immune system (called immune reconstitution inflammatory syndrome or IRIS). IRIS is a condition that sometimes occurs when the immune system begins to recover after treatment with an HIV medicine. As the immune system gets stronger, it may have an increased response to a previously hidden infection.
  • New or worsening kidney problems (including kidney failure).

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 Descovy. To learn more about possible side effects of Descovy, read the drug label or package insert or talk to your health care provider or pharmacist.

You can also report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088 (1-800-332-1088) or online.

How should Descovy be stored?

How should Descovy be stored?

  • Store Descovy at room temperature, 68°F to 77°F (20°C to 25°C).
  • Keep Descovy in the container that it came in and keep the container tightly closed. If the container has a small packet of drying agent (called a desiccant), do not remove it. The desiccant protects the medicine from moisture.
  • Do not use Descovy if the original seal over the container opening is broken or missing.
  • Throw away Descovy that is no longer needed or expired (out of date). Follow FDA guidelines on how to safely dispose of unused medicine.
  • Keep Descovy and all medicines out of reach of children.

Where can I find more information about Descovy?

Where can I find more information about Descovy?

More information about Descovy is available:

Manufacturer Information

Gilead Sciences, Inc.
Main number: 800-445-3235
Patient assistance: 800-226-2056

The above Patient Version drug summary is based on the following FDA label(s): Tablet (film coated).

Last Reviewed: October 4, 2019