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Atovaquone for pneumocystis pneumonia


It is important to take atovaquone with food, preferably food which has a high fat content.

Take one 5 ml spoonful of medicine in the morning and one 5 ml spoonful in the evening for 21 days.

If you have problems with loose, watery stools (diarrhoea) when you first start treatment, tell your doctor.

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About atovaquone

Type of medicine


Used for

Pneumonia caused by an organism called

Pneumocystis jirovecii

Also called


Available as

Oral liquid medicine

Atovaquone is used to treat a chest infection called pneumocystis pneumonia. This lung infection is caused by an organism called Pneumocystis jirovecii and occurs in people whose immune system has been weakened - for example, by AIDS. Atovaquone is prescribed when other treatments cannot be used. It is prescribed by doctors who are specialists.

Atovaquone works by killing the organism causing the infection.

Before taking atovaquone

Some medicines are not suitable for people with certain conditions, and sometimes a medicine may only be used if extra care is taken. For these reasons, before you start taking atovaquone it is important that your doctor or pharmacist knows:

  • If you are pregnant or breastfeeding.

  • If you have liver or kidney problems.

  • If you are taking any other medicines. This includes any medicines you are taking 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.

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How to take atovaquone

  • Before you start this treatment, read the manufacturer's printed information leaflet from the pack. The leaflet will give you more information about atovaquone and a full list of side-effects which you may experience from taking it.

  • Take the medicine exactly as your doctor tells you to, and remember to shake the bottle well before you pour out your doses. The usual dose is one 5 ml spoonful twice daily (morning and night) for 21 days.

  • It is very important that you take your doses with food, preferably foods that are high in fat. This is because high-fat foods help your body absorb atovaquone and make your treatment more effective. If you have difficulty eating meals for any reason, let your doctor know about this.

  • Try to take atovaquone at the same times each day as this will help you remember to take it.

  • If you forget to take a dose, take one as soon as you remember (with some food) but do not take two doses together.

Getting the most from your treatment

  • Keep your regular appointments with your doctor. This is so your doctor can check on your progress. Your doctor will want to do some tests during this treatment to check that the medicine is working for you.

  • Remember to take the full course of this medicine.

  • If you have any medical or dental treatment, tell the person carrying out the treatment which medicines you are taking.

  • If you buy any medicines, check with a pharmacist that they are suitable to take with your other medicines.

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Can atovaquone cause problems?

Along with their useful effects, most medicines can cause unwanted side-effects although not everyone experiences them. These usually improve as your body adjusts to the new medicine, but speak with your doctor or pharmacist if any of the following side-effects continue or become troublesome.

Very common atovaquone side-effects - these affect more than 1 in 10 people who take this medicine

What can I do if I experience this?

Feeling sick (nausea)

Stick to simple meals. Remember to take your doses with a meal

An itchy skin rash

If this becomes troublesome, speak with your doctor

Common atovaquone side-effects

- these affect fewer than 1 in 10 people who take this medicine

What can I do if I experience this?

Loose, watery stools (diarrhoea)

Let your doctor know about this, particularly if it is at the start of your treatment. It may mean that your body is not absorbing the full dose of atovaquone and the treatment could be less effective for you

Being sick (vomiting)

If you are sick up to one hour after taking your dose you may need to take another dose. Contact your doctor or pharmacist for advice


Drink plenty of water and ask a pharmacist to recommend a suitable painkiller. If the headaches continue, let your doctor know

Difficulty sleeping, high temperature

If either of these becomes troublesome, speak with your doctor

Changes to some blood tests

Your doctor will want to monitor you for these although you are unlikely to notice any symptoms. Let your doctor know if you start to feel unusually tired

Important: if you become breathless or start having breathing problems, or if you notice any swelling of your mouth, throat or face, you should contact a doctor straightaway. These could be signs of an allergic-type reaction.

If you experience any other symptoms which you think may be due to this medicine, speak with your doctor or pharmacist.

How to store atovaquone

  • Keep all medicines out of the reach and sight of children.

  • Store in a cool, dry place, away from direct heat and light.

  • This medicine will keep for 21 days once the bottle has been opened.

Important information about all medicines

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.

Report side effects to a medicine or vaccine

If you experience side effects, you can report them online through the Yellow Card website.

Further reading and references

Article History

The information on this page is written and peer reviewed by qualified clinicians.

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