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Emtricitabine/ Tenofovir Alafenamide

Descovy

Descovy is an FDA-approved prescription medication used both for HIV treatment and as pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) to lower the risk of contracting HIV. This drug, consisting of emtricitabine and tenofovir alafenamide, is available in two tablet strengths and can be taken daily with or without food. It functions by blocking the enzyme essential for HIV replication, thus helping to prevent the virus from proliferating. Common side effects may include headaches, liver damage, and kidney issues. Consistent dosage is crucial to avoid diminished efficacy and the development of drug resistance. So, if you want to buy Descovy online to treat & reduce the risk of HIV, you need to get a prescription from your doctor.

Product Overview

Descovy is a combination of antiretroviral medication made up of emtricitabine and tenofovir alafenamide, used to treat and prevent HIV infections as part of pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP). This drug comes in tablet form and is taken orally once a day, with or without food, simplifying adherence to the treatment regimen. It’s crucial for users to consistently follow their dosing schedule to prevent HIV resistance and maintain the drug’s effectiveness.

The medication works by inhibiting reverse transcriptase, an enzyme vital for HIV to replicate and propagate within the body. By blocking this enzyme, Descovy effectively curbs HIV replication, leading to reduced viral loads and increased CD4 cell counts, enhancing immune function. However, potential side effects range from common issues like headaches and gastrointestinal discomfort to more severe conditions such as immune reconstitution syndrome, kidney and liver damage, and lactic acidosis, all requiring close medical supervision.

For individuals using Descovy for PrEP, it is essential to maintain a confirmed HIV-negative status through regular testing. This is critical as using Descovy while HIV-positive, without complementary antiretrovirals, can cause drug resistance. Currently, Descovy is not recommended for PrEP in cisgender women due to insufficient data on its effectiveness in preventing HIV via vaginal intercourse. Additionally, interactions with other medications, such as certain seizure drugs and antibiotics, may affect Descovy’s effectiveness, necessitating adjustments to treatment plans. Patients should discuss their complete medical history, including kidney and liver health, with their healthcare provider to confirm Descovy’s suitability.

Uses of Descovy

Descovy has received approval from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the following uses:

  • Treating HIV
  • Reducing the risk of HIV as part of pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP)

Descovy Dosage

Descovy comes as a tablet that is taken by mouth. It’s available in two strengths:

  • 200 milligrams (mg) of emtricitabine per 25 mg of tenofovir alafenamide
  • 120 milligrams (mg) of emtricitabine per 15 mg of tenofovir alafenamide

Recommended Dosage for Different Patients

Dosage for HIV Treatment

The standard dosage for treating HIV is one tablet of 200 mg emtricitabine/25 mg tenofovir alafenamide taken daily. This dosage is suitable for adults and children who weigh at least 35 kilograms (kg), approximately 77 pounds (lb). Descovy should be used in conjunction with other HIV medications for effective treatment.

Dosage for PrEP

For pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP), the recommended dosage is also a 200 mg emtricitabine/25 mg tenofovir alafenamide tablet taken once daily. This applies to adults and adolescents who weigh at least 35 kg (about 77 lb). Descovy is utilized alone for PrEP.

Pediatric Dosage for HIV Treatment

The recommended pediatric dosage for HIV treatment varies based on the child’s body weight:

  • For children weighing more than 14 kg to less than 25 kg (approximately 31 lb to less than 55 lb), the dosage is one 120-mg emtricitabine/15-mg tenofovir alafenamide tablet per day.
  • For children weighing more than 25 kg to less than 35 kg (approximately 55 lb to 77 lb), the dosage is one 200-mg emtricitabine per 25-mg tenofovir alafenamide tablet per day.

For these pediatric doses, it’s important to note that other medications taken in combination with Descovy should not include protease inhibitors that require co-administration with other drugs.

[Note: These recommendations mentioned above can vary from person to person. Discuss it with your doctor or pharmacist, and they will customize your Descovy dosage accordingly.]

How to Take Descovy?

  • Always take Descovy as directed by your doctor or healthcare professional. Never alter the dosage without consulting them first.
  • Consume Descovy once daily, ideally at the same time every day, to maintain constant drug levels in your body.
  • If you are using Descovy for HIV pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP), it is crucial to take it daily. Do not skip doses or only take them when perceived exposure to HIV occurs.
  • To ensure you do not forget to take your medication, consider setting a daily reminder on your phone. Additionally, using a medication timer can help keep you on schedule.
  • Descovy can be taken with or without food so that you can use it easily in your daily routine regardless of meal times.
  • Do not crush, split, or chew Descovy tablets unless advised by a healthcare provider. If you experience difficulty swallowing the tablets, consult your pharmacist or doctor for alternatives or solutions.
  • Descovy is generally prescribed as a long-term treatment option. If it is deemed safe and effective for you, you will likely be advised to continue taking it over an extended period. Always discuss any concerns, queries, or side effects with your doctor to ensure it remains the best treatment option for you.

[Note: Your doctor or healthcare giver will decide the right amount of Descovy for you based on your condition, following guidelines & studies on the drug. They’ll adjust it as needed over time.]

How Does Descovy Work?

Descovy contains two active ingredients that are classified as nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors (NRTIs). These components inhibit HIV replication by blocking a specific enzyme necessary for the virus to replicate its genetic material. This blockade prevents the virus from multiplying, reducing HIV levels and allowing CD4 cell counts to rise. This enhances your immune system’s ability to ward off infections. When used for HIV pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP), Descovy acts quickly to thwart the virus’s initial attack on your immune system, beginning to work within hours of ingestion. For PrEP, it is recommended to continue taking Descovy for at least 7 days to achieve optimal preventive effects. If Descovy is being used to treat HIV, it may take several weeks or months before there is a significant decrease in HIV levels and a return to normal CD4 cell counts.

Important Safety Information

Descovy Side Effects

Common side effects of Descovy may include:

  • Abdominal Pain
  • Nausea
  • Diarrhea
  • Headache
  • Fatigue

Adverse/Serious side effects of Descovy may include:

  • Immune Reconstitution Syndrome. The symptoms of this syndrome include:
    • Fatigue
    • Fever
    • Weakness
  • New or worsening cases of kidney damage. Symptoms of this can include:
    • Fatigue
    • Nausea
    • Vomiting
    • Weakness
    • Urinating Less Than Usual
  • Liver damage. Symptoms can include:
    • Abdominal Pain
    • Vomiting
    • Dark-Colored Urine
    • Nausea
    • Loss Of Appetite
    • Jaundice
  • Lactic acidosis (production of lactic acid in your body). Symptoms can include:
    • Dizziness
    • Trouble Breathing
    • Fruity-Smelling Breath
    • Fatigue
    • Nausea
    • Vomiting
    • Muscle Pain
    • Rapid Or Unusual Heartbeat
    • Hands Or Feet That Feel Cold And Look Blue
  • Decreased bone density can result in osteoporosis, characterized by bones that are more prone to fractures or breaks than typically observed.
  • Risk of resistance to Descovy treatment.
  • Risk of worsening of hepatitis B.
  • Allergic reactions.

[Note: This list might not cover all possible side effects of Descovy. Always talk to your doctor or pharmacist for medical advice about this medication’s side effects.]

Descovy Warnings

FDA Boxed Warnings: Descovy comes with significant FDA Boxed Warnings, the highest level of alert issued by the Food and Drug Administration. These warnings highlight the potential severe side effects associated with the medication and are intended to inform both healthcare providers & patients about the risks that may require careful consideration.

  • Risk of worsening of hepatitis B: One of the primary concerns outlined in these warnings is the risk of severe exacerbation of hepatitis B. This risk has been observed in individuals who are infected with the HBV (hepatitis B virus) and have discontinued treatment with emtricitabine, tenofovir disoproxil fumarate, or medications containing both. The same complications may arise with the use of Descovy. Therefore, if you are diagnosed with hepatitis B, it is crucial that your healthcare provider closely monitors your liver function for an extended period after you cease taking Descovy, or any other related drugs. This monitoring helps to detect any worsening conditions early, and if necessary, initiate appropriate treatment for hepatitis B.
  • Risk of resistance to Descovy treatment: Another significant risk associated with Descovy involves the development of drug resistance, particularly when used for pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) to prevent HIV. Descovy should only be administered for PrEP in individuals who are confirmed to be HIV-negative. Using Descovy for PrEP in HIV-positive individuals can lead to the development of resistance, where HIV becomes less responsive or entirely unresponsive to the effects of Descovy. This resistance diminishes the drug’s effectiveness and compromises its utility in treating or preventing HIV. To manage this risk, healthcare providers are advised to perform HIV testing before starting Descovy and to continue testing every three months throughout the treatment period. If HIV is detected, an alternative treatment strategy will be recommended to manage your health effectively.

Descovy Precautions

Before you start taking Descovy, it is crucial to have a detailed discussion with your doctor regarding your medical history. Certain health conditions and factors may make Descovy an inappropriate choice for your treatment. Here’s what you need to consider:

  • Kidney Health: Descovy has been linked to the development of new kidney issues or the exacerbation of existing kidney problems in some individuals. If you have any history of kidney disease, it’s essential to share this with your healthcare provider. Your doctor will assess your kidney function to determine whether Descovy is a safe option for you, considering its potential impact on renal health.
  • Liver Health: The active components in Descovy have been associated with serious liver complications in some cases, which have been fatal for some individuals. If you have any liver conditions, including hepatitis B (as highlighted in the FDA warning), you should inform your doctor. It’s important for your healthcare provider to evaluate your liver function and consider any potential risks before prescribing Descovy. This step ensures that the treatment does not further jeopardize your liver health.
  • Alcohol Consumption: While there are no known interactions between Descovy and alcohol, guidelines for individuals with HIV or those at risk for HIV suggest moderation in alcohol consumption. For women, this is defined as no more than one drink per day, and for men, no more than two drinks per day. Moderate drinking is recommended because it is believed to reduce the chances of engaging in risky behaviors, like unprotected sex, which enhances the risk of transmitting or contracting HIV. Moreover, limiting alcohol intake is beneficial for maintaining an effective immune response. Keeping HIV at low levels in your blood is easier when your immune system is not compromised by excessive alcohol consumption.
  • Pregnancy: The safety of Descovy during pregnancy remains unclear. While animal studies haven’t shown any adverse effects on the fetus when the active ingredients of Descovy are administered, these results cannot be directly extrapolated to humans due to physiological differences. To gather more comprehensive data on the effects of Descovy and other antiretroviral drugs during pregnancy, the Antiretroviral Pregnancy Registry was established. This registry collects and analyzes information from pregnant women who have used antiretrovirals, aiming to assist healthcare professionals in assessing the safety of these medications during pregnancy. Participation in this registry can help build a clearer understanding of Descovy’s safety profile for pregnant users.  
  • Breastfeeding: If you are HIV-positive, it is recommended not to breastfeed while taking Descovy. One of the active drugs in Descovy, emtricitabine, is known to pass into human breast milk. There is uncertainty about whether the other active ingredient, tenofovir alafenamide, also transfers into breast milk. The primary concern with breastfeeding while on Descovy is the potential for side effects in the infant and the possibility of developing resistance to HIV treatments—where the virus becomes insensitive to the drugs. This could compromise the child’s ability to receive effective treatment for HIV in the future. Centers for Disease Control & Prevention advises individuals with HIV in the United States to refrain from breastfeeding to prevent the transmission of the virus to the infant. This guidance aims to decrease the risk of HIV infection among newborns and is based on current public health recommendations.

Descovy Missed Dose

If you happen to miss a dose of Descovy, it’s important to take it as soon as you remember. Maintaining consistency in taking your medication is crucial because the effectiveness of Descovy, whether for treatment or prevention of HIV, heavily depends on regular dosing without interruptions.

When Descovy is prescribed for the treatment of HIV, it’s essential to adhere strictly to your dosing schedule. Missing doses may lead to the virus developing resistance to the medication. Resistance occurs when the virus mutates & becomes less sensitive to the effects of Descovy or possibly unresponsive altogether. This resistance compromises the drug’s effectiveness, making it less effective or even ineffective, which could significantly impact your treatment outcomes.

Similarly, if you are taking Descovy for pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) to prevent HIV infection, consistency is key. Missing doses can significantly increase your risk of contracting HIV, as the protective effect of the medication diminishes with each missed dose.

To ensure that you do not forget to take your medication, consider implementing practical strategies such as setting reminders on your phone. Additionally, using a medication timer can be an effective way to keep track of your dosing schedule. These tools can help you maintain the discipline needed to take your medication as prescribed, thereby optimizing the effectiveness of Descovy in your treatment or prevention regimen.

[Note: If you have missed a dose of Descovy and are unsure about when to take the next dose, immediately consult your doctor or pharmacist.]

Descovy Overdose

It is important not to exceed the dosage of Descovy recommended by your doctor. If you suspect that you may have taken more than the prescribed amount of Descovy, immediately contact your doctor for guidance. However, if you experience severe symptoms as a result of the overdose, do not hesitate to call 911 or go to the nearest emergency room to ensure you receive prompt medical attention.

[Note: If you consumed more than the dose of Descovy as your doctor recommended, get medical help quickly or call the Poison Help line at 1-800-222-1222.]

Descovy Storage

  • Store Descovy tablets at room temperature, ideally between 68°F-77°F (20°C-25°C). Ensure they are kept in a tightly sealed container to maintain their integrity and effectiveness.
  • Do not store Descovy in locations prone to moisture, such as bathrooms. Exposure to damp conditions can compromise the quality of the medication.
  • Safely dispose of any unused Descovy tablets if you no longer require the medication. Proper disposal is crucial to prevent accidental ingestion by children, pets, or anyone for whom the medication was not prescribed. 
  • Responsible disposal of this medication helps protect the environment from potential harm caused by pharmaceuticals.

[Note: Discuss with your doctor about the proper disposal of any unused medicine & any questions you may have regarding its storage.]

Descovy Interactions

Descovy, a prescription medication, has the potential to interact with a variety of other pharmaceuticals and supplements. These interactions can manifest in numerous ways and vary significantly in their effects. For example, certain interactions may disrupt the effectiveness of Descovy or another concomitant medication, impacting the therapeutic outcome. Other interactions may exacerbate side effects or increase their severity, posing additional health risks.

Descovy and other medications

It is crucial to be aware of the specific medications that are known to interact with Descovy. The list provided below is not limited but includes some common drugs that may have adverse interactions with Descovy. To ensure safety & efficacy, it is essential to discuss all medications you are currently taking with your healthcare provider. This includes all prescription drugs, over-the-counter medicines, and any herbal supplements or vitamins you may be using.

Descovy and certain seizure drugs: 

When taking Descovy in conjunction with certain anticonvulsant medications, there may be a significant interaction affecting the drug’s effectiveness. Descovy contains tenofovir alafenamide, an active ingredient crucial for its efficacy. However, specific anticonvulsant drugs can reduce the concentration of tenofovir alafenamide in the bloodstream, potentially diminishing Descovy’s therapeutic impact. Notable anticonvulsants known for this interaction include carbamazepine, available under brand names such as Carbatrol, Epitol, and Tegretol; oxcarbazepine, marketed as Trileptal; phenobarbital; and phenytoin, sold as Dilantin and Phenytek. If you require anticonvulsant treatment while using Descovy, it is advisable to consult with your doctor or healthcare provider to possibly prescribe an alternative to these specific medications to avoid this interaction.

Descovy and certain antibiotics: The concurrent use of Descovy with certain antibiotics is generally advised against due to similar pharmacological conflicts. These antibiotics can also reduce the levels of tenofovir alafenamide in the body, thereby compromising the effectiveness of Descovy. The antibiotics that typically lead to such interactions include rifabutin (Mycobutin), rifampin (Rimactane), and rifapentine (Priftin). If your treatment plan necessitates the use of these antibiotics while on Descovy, your doctor might recommend switching to a different antibiotic or altering your HIV medication regimen to ensure the continued effectiveness of the treatment.

Descovy and certain antivirals: Taking certain antibiotics or antivirals along with Descovy may inadvertently raise the drug’s concentration in your body to potentially dangerous levels, potentially leading to kidney damage. This occurs because some antibiotics and antivirals inhibit the ability of your kidneys to excrete Descovy through urine. Drugs known to have this interaction include:

  • Gentamicin (marketed as Gentak)
  • Valacyclovir (marketed as Valtrex)
  • Valganciclovir (marketed as Valcyte)
  • Acyclovir (marketed as Zovirax)
  • Ganciclovir (marketed as Zirgan)

If you are prescribed Descovy and need to use any of these medications concurrently, it is crucial for your doctor or healthcare provider to monitor your kidney functions more vigilantly. Depending on your situation, they might also consider altering your treatment plan to mitigate any risks.

Descovy and tipranavir and ritonavir: While taking Descovy with both medications tipranavir (Aptivus) & ritonavir (Norvir), can lower levels of tenofovir alafenamide in your body. This can make Descovy tablets less effective for you. Taking Descovy tablets with these drugs is not recommended.

Descovy and herbs and supplements

Combining Descovy with the HIV medications tipranavir (Aptivus) and ritonavir (Norvir) can lead to a decrease in the levels of tenofovir alafenamide, an active ingredient in Descovy. This reduction can compromise the effectiveness of Descovy in treating your condition. Consequently, taking Descovy in conjunction with both tipranavir and ritonavir is generally not recommended due to these interactions.

[Note: This isn’t a complete list, & there could be other drugs that interact with Descovy. Make sure to tell your doctor or pharmacist about any prescription, over-the-counter medicines, & herbal products you’re taking.]

Descovy Alternatives

  • Genvoya (tenofovir alafenamide/emtricitabine/elvitegravir/cobicistat)
  • Juluca (dolutegravir/rilpivirine)
  • Evotaz (atazanavir/cobicistat)
  • Stribild (tenofovir disoproxil fumarate/elvitegravir/emtricitabine/cobicistat)
  • Epzicom (abacavir/lamivudine)
  • Symfi (efavirenz/lamivudine/tenofovir disoproxil fumarate)
  • Truvada (tenofovir disoproxil fumarate/emtricitabine)
  • Isentress (raltegravir)
  • Biktarvy (bictegravir/tenofovir alafenamide/emtricitabine)
  • Cabenuva (cabotegravir/rilpivirine)
  • Tivicay (dolutegravir)
  • Triumeq (dolutegravir/abacavir/lamivudine)
  • Symtuza (tenofovir alafenamide/darunavir/emtricitabine/cobicistat)

[Note: Your doctor will choose what is best for you. Don’t use any of these alternative medications of Descovy without consulting your healthcare provider or doctor. Self-medicating may lead to serious side effects.]  

Frequently Asked Questions

If I have kidney problems, can I take Descovy?

If you are experiencing kidney issues and are considering taking Descovy, it’s important to consult with your healthcare provider. Descovy can be administered to individuals with mild to moderate kidney impairments, although it necessitates closer monitoring of kidney functions than typically required. This ensures that any potential worsening of kidney health can be promptly addressed. However, if you have severe kidney problems, Descovy might not be a suitable medication for you. Your doctor will assess your overall kidney health and determine whether Descovy is a safe option based on the specifics of your condition. Always discuss all aspects of your kidney health and treatment options with your healthcare giver or doctor to ensure the safest & most effective care plan.

If I am using Descovy tablets for PrEP, what else can I do to get protected against HIV?

When using Descovy for pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) against HIV, it’s crucial to adhere to your medication regimen by taking the tablet consistently every day. Skipping doses can significantly increase your risk of contracting HIV. To enhance your protection, always use barrier methods, such as condoms, during all sexual activities. This is essential as it provides an additional layer of defense against HIV transmission. Moreover, to ensure the effectiveness of condoms and minimize the risk of them breaking or slipping, opt for water-based or silicone-based lubricants. These types of lubricants are safe to use with condoms and can help maintain the integrity and effectiveness of the barrier.

Does Descovy cure HIV?

Descovy does not cure HIV. As of now, there is no definitive cure available for HIV. However, medications like Descovy can significantly reduce the significant amount of virus in your blood to undetectable levels. It is important to note that even when the virus is undetectable, it does not necessarily mean it has been completely eradicated from the body. It is crucial to continue taking Descovy exactly as prescribed by your doctor, regardless of the virus becoming undetectable, to maintain control over the infection.

Can Descovy tablets be used for PrEP by cisgender women?

Descovy is currently not authorized by the Food and Drug Administration for use as HIV pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP), specifically for cisgender women. Cisgender women are individuals whose gender identity matches the sex as assigned at birth, generally identified as female by healthcare professionals. The reason for this restriction is that Descovy has not undergone various clinical trials to evaluate its efficacy in preventing HIV in cisgender women who may be exposed to the virus through vaginal intercourse. 

As a result, it remains uncertain whether Descovy can offer effective protection against HIV for individuals at risk through this mode of transmission. If you are considering HIV prevention options, it is crucial to consult with your doctor. They can assess any risk factors & recommend the most suitable PrEP options available for you.

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