Etravirine slows the progress of HIV infection. It is one of a number of medicines that you will need to take regularly.
Take two doses a day, after food.Etravirine has been associated with some side-effects, most commonly a rash. Your doctor will discuss this with you before you start treatment.
|Type of medicine||A non-nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitor antiretroviral medicine|
|Used for||Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection (in adults and in children aged over 6 years)|
Etravirine is an antiretroviral medicine. It is used for human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection. It slows the progress of HIV infection, but it is not a cure. HIV destroys cells in the body, called CD4 T cells. These cells are a type of white blood cell and are important because they are involved in protecting your body from infection. If left untreated, the HIV infection weakens your immune system so that your body cannot defend itself against bacteria, viruses and other germs. Etravirine slows down the progress of HIV infection by reducing the amount of virus in your body. It does this by stopping the virus from copying (replicating) itself.
Etravirine will be prescribed for you by a doctor who is a specialist. It belongs to a group of antiretroviral medicines known as non-nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors. It is given alongside a number of other antiretroviral medicines, as part of a combination therapy. Taking three or more antiretroviral medicines at the same time is more effective than taking one alone. Taking a combination of different medicines also reduces the risk that the virus will become resistant to any individual medicine. It is vital to take them exactly as prescribed to maintain success and to help to prevent the virus from becoming resistant to the medicines. These medicines are usually taken for life.
Before taking etravirine
Some medicines are not suitable for people with certain conditions, and sometimes a medicine can only be used if extra care is taken. For these reasons, before you start taking etravirine it is important that your doctor knows:
- If you are pregnant or breast-feeding.
- If you have any problems with the way your liver works.
- If you have a rare inherited blood disorder called porphyria.
- If you are taking any other medicines. This includes any medicines which are available to buy without a prescription, as well as herbal and complementary medicines.
- If you have ever had an allergic reaction to a medicine.
How to take etravirine
- Before you start the treatment, read the manufacturer's printed information leaflet from inside the pack. It will give you more information about etravirine, and it will also provide you with a full list of the side-effects which you could experience from taking it.
- Take etravirine exactly as your doctor tells you to. There are three strengths of tablet available: 200 mg for adults, and 25 mg and 100 mg for older children. The usual adult dose is one 200 mg tablet twice daily. If your child has been prescribed etravirine, your doctor will tell you what dose should be taken. Where possible the two daily doses should be taken 12 hours apart - so, the first dose in the morning and the other in the evening. It is important that etravirine tablets are taken following a meal or after a snack, as this will help your body to absorb the medicine.
- If you have difficulty swallowing tablets, you can mix the tablet into water, providing you then swallow the mixture straightaway.
- If you forget to take a dose, take it as soon as you remember, providing it is within six hours of the time you should have taken it. If it is more than six hours since you should have taken it, leave out the missed dose but remember to take your next dose when it is due. Do not take two doses together to make up for a forgotten dose.
Getting the most from your treatment
- Keep your regular appointments with your doctor so that your progress can be monitored. You will need to have regular blood tests.
- It is important that you continue to take etravirine and your other antiretroviral treatment regularly. This will help to prevent the HIV from becoming resistant to the medicines you are taking. Even if you miss only a small number of doses, the virus can become resistant to treatment.
- If you develop an infection soon after you start the treatment, let your doctor know. As a result of taking etravirine, your immune system may start fighting an infection which was present before you started the treatment, but which you may not have been aware of.
- Follow carefully any advice your doctor gives to you about making lifestyle changes to reduce any risk of damage to your heart and blood vessels. These can include stopping smoking, eating healthily and taking regular exercise.
- Although treatment with antiretroviral medicines may reduce the risk of you passing HIV to others through sexual contact, it does not stop it. It is important that you use condoms.
- It is not uncommon for people with HIV to feel low or even depressed, especially soon after the diagnosis has been made and treatment has been started. If you have any feelings of depression, or any distressing thoughts about harming yourself then you should speak with your doctor straightaway.
- Some people who have taken antiretroviral medicines (particularly over a long time) have developed a condition called osteonecrosis. This is a bone disease where bone tissue dies because there is a reduced blood supply to it. It leads to joint pains and stiffness, and can cause difficulties in movement. If you notice any of these symptoms, speak with your doctor.
- If you buy any medicines, supplements or herbal remedies 'over the counter', check with a pharmacist that they are suitable to take with etravirine and your other medicines. This is because some medicines interfere with antiretrovirals and can stop them from working properly.
- Some people taking antiretroviral medicines develop changes to the way body fat is distributed in the body. This can result in changes to body image. Your doctor will discuss the possibility of this with you.
- If you are having an operation or dental treatment, tell the person carrying out the treatment which medicines you are taking.
- Treatment for HIV is usually lifelong. Continue to take etravirine regularly, even if you feel well. This is to keep your immune system healthy.
Can etravirine cause problems?
Along with their useful effects, most medicines can cause unwanted side-effects although not everyone experiences them. The table below contains some of the most common ones associated with etravirine. You will find a full list in the manufacturer's information leaflet supplied with your medicine. The unwanted effects often improve as your body adjusts to the new medicine, but speak with your doctor or pharmacist if any of the following continue or become troublesome.
|Very common etravirine side-effects (these affect more than 1 in 10 people)||What can I do if I experience this?|
|Itchy rash (usually at the start of treatment)||Let your doctor know about this straightaway if it is severe, if blisters develop, or if you also feel generally unwell|
|Common etravirine side-effects (these affect less than 1 in 10 people)||What can I do if I experience this?|
|Feeling sick, indigestion, tummy (abdominal) pain, wind||Stick to simple meals - avoid fatty or spicy food. If it continues, speak with your doctor|
|Diarrhoea||Drink plenty of water to replace lost fluids|
|Headache||Ask your doctor to recommend a suitable painkiller|
|Feeling tired||Do not drive and do not use tools or machines while affected|
|Feeling anxious, sleeping problems, tingling feelings, high blood pressure, heart problems, kidney problems, diabetes, night sweats||If you are concerned about any of these, discuss it with your doctor|
|Changes to some blood tests||Your doctor will check for this|
If you experience any other symptoms which you think may be due to the tablets, speak with your doctor or pharmacist for further advice.
How to store etravirine
- Keep all medicines out of the reach and sight of children.
- Store in a cool, dry place, away from direct heat and light. The bottle contains a desiccant to keep the tablets dry - do not transfer the tablets into any other container.
Important information about all medicines
Never take more than the prescribed dose. If you suspect that you or someone else might have taken an overdose of this medicine, go to the accident and emergency department of your local hospital at once. Take the container with you, even if it is empty.
This medicine is for you. Never give it to other people even if their condition appears to be the same as yours.
Do not keep out-of-date or unwanted medicines. Take them to your local pharmacy which will dispose of them for you.
If you have any questions about this medicine ask your pharmacist.
Further reading & references
- Manufacturer's PIL, Intelence® 200 mg; Janssen-Cilag Ltd, The electronic Medicines Compendium. Dated January 2016.
- British National Formulary; 71st Edition (Mar-Sep 2016) British Medical Association and Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain, London
Disclaimer: This article is for information only and should not be used for the diagnosis or treatment of medical conditions. EMIS has used all reasonable care in compiling the information but make no warranty as to its accuracy. Consult a doctor or other health care professional for diagnosis and treatment of medical conditions. For details see our conditions.
Dr Helen Huins