Efavirenz is used along with other medications to treat human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection. Efavirenz is in a class of medications called non-nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors (NNRTIs). It works by decreasing the amount of HIV in the blood. Although efavirenz does not cure HIV, it may decrease your chance of developing acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) and HIV-related illnesses such as serious infections or cancer. Taking these medications along with practicing safer sex and making other life-style changes may decrease the risk of transmitting (spreading) the HIV virus to other people.
Efavirenz comes as a capsule and as a tablet to take by mouth. It is usually taken once a day with plenty of water on an empty stomach (at least 1 hour before or 2 hours after a meal). Take efavirenz at around the same time every day. Taking efavirenz at bedtime may make certain side effects less bothersome. Follow the directions on your prescription label carefully, and ask your doctor or pharmacist to explain any part you do not understand. Take efavirenz exactly as directed. Do not take more or less of it or take it more often than prescribed by your doctor.
Swallow the tablets and capsules whole; do not split, chew, or crush them.
If you are not able to swallow the medication whole, you can still take efavirenz by mixing the contents of the capsule with soft food and eating. To prepare each dose, open the capsule and sprinkle the contents onto 1-2 teaspoons of soft food in a small container. You can use soft foods such as applesauce, grape jelly, or yogurt. While sprinkling, be careful not to spill the contents of the capsule, or spread it in the air. Mix the medicine with the soft food. The mixture should look grainy but should not be lumpy. You must eat the medicine and soft food mixture within 30 minutes of mixing. When you are finished, add another 2 teaspoons of soft food to the empty container, stir, and eat to be sure that you have received the full dose of medication. Do not eat for the next 2 hours.
If efavirenz is being given to a baby who can not yet eat solid foods, the contents of the capsule can be mixed with 2 teaspoons of room temperature infant formula in a small container. While emptying the capsule, be careful not to spill the contents, or spread it in the air. The mixture should look grainy but should not be lumpy. The mixture should be syringe fed to the baby within 30 minutes of mixing. When finished, add an additional 2 teaspoons of infant formula to the empty container, stir, and syringe feed to the baby to be sure that you have given the full dose of medication. Do not give the medication to the baby in a bottle. Do not feed the baby for the next 2 hours.
Efavirenz controls HIV infection, but does not cure it. Continue to take efavirenz even if you feel well. Do not stop taking efavirenz without talking to your doctor. When your supply of efavirenz starts to run low, get more from your doctor or pharmacist. If you miss doses or stop taking efavirenz, your condition may become more difficult to treat.
Efavirenz is also used with other medications to help prevent infection in healthcare workers or other people who were accidentally exposed to HIV. Talk to your doctor about the possible risks of using this medication for your condition.
This medication may be prescribed for other uses; ask your doctor or pharmacist for more information.
Before taking efavirenz,
Talk to your doctor about eating grapefruit and drinking grapefruit juice while taking this medication.
Take the missed dose as soon as you remember it. However, if it is almost time for the next dose, skip the missed dose and continue your regular dosing schedule. Do not take a double dose to make up for a missed one.
Efavirenz may cause side effects. Tell your doctor if any of these symptoms are severe or do not go away:
Some side effects can be serious. If you experience any of the following symptoms or those mentioned in the SPECIAL PRECAUTIONS section, call your doctor immediately:
Efavirenz may cause other side effects. Call your doctor if you have any unusual problems while taking this medication.
If you experience a serious side effect, you or your doctor may send a report to the Food and Drug Administration's (FDA) MedWatch Adverse Event Reporting program online ( Web Site) or by phone (1-800-332-1088).
Keep this medication in the container it came in, tightly closed, and out of reach of children. Store it at room temperature and away from excess heat and moisture (not in the bathroom).
It is important to keep all medication out of sight and reach of children as many containers (such as weekly pill minders and those for eye drops, creams, patches, and inhalers) are not child-resistant and young children can open them easily. To protect young children from poisoning, always lock safety caps and immediately place the medication in a safe location – one that is up and away and out of their sight and reach. Web Site
Unneeded medications should be disposed of in special ways to ensure that pets, children, and other people cannot consume them. However, you should not flush this medication down the toilet. Instead, the best way to dispose of your medication is through a medicine take-back program. Talk to your pharmacist or contact your local garbage/recycling department to learn about take-back programs in your community. See the FDA's Safe Disposal of Medicines website ( Web Site) for more information if you do not have access to a take-back program.
In case of overdose, call the poison control helpline at 1-800-222-1222. Information is also available online at Web Site. If the victim has collapsed, had a seizure, has trouble breathing, or can't be awakened, immediately call emergency services at 911.
Symptoms of overdose may include:
Keep all appointments with your doctor and the laboratory. Your doctor may order certain lab tests to check your body's response to efavirenz.
Before having any laboratory test, tell your doctor and the laboratory personnel that you are taking efavirenz.
Do not let anyone else take your medication. Ask your pharmacist any questions you have about refilling your prescription.
It is important for you to keep a written list of all of the prescription and nonprescription (over-the-counter) medicines you are taking, as well as any products such as vitamins, minerals, or other dietary supplements. You should bring this list with you each time you visit a doctor or if you are admitted to a hospital. It is also important information to carry with you in case of emergencies.