NZ Formulary



What does it do?

Emtricitabine is used with other medicines to control HIV.

How should you take it?

Take emtricitabine as directed with a glass of water. It is very important to take it regularly. If you often forget to take emtricitabine, it may not work as well.

What if you forget a dose?

If it is nearly time for your next dose, skip the missed dose and take your next dose at the usual time. Otherwise, take the missed dose as soon as you remember. Do not take two doses at the same time.

Can you take other medicines?

Some medicines available without a prescription may react with emtricitabine including:

  • orlistat (Xenical®)

Tell your pharmacist or doctor about all medicines or treatments that you may be taking, including vitamins, herbal products or recreational drugs.

What side effects might you notice?

Side EffectsRecommended action

Headache, dizziness

Trouble sleeping, strange dreams

Joint, muscle or bone aches and pains

Cough, runny or blocked nose

Darkening of skin or fingernails

Stomach upset, abdominal pain

Tell your doctor if troublesome

If you notice any other effects, discuss them with your doctor or pharmacist.

Other information:

  • Tell your doctor if you have kidney problems, or if you have ever had Hepatitis B or C.
  • Tell your doctor if you are pregnant, planning to become pregnant, or breastfeeding.
  • You will need regular blood tests while taking emtricitabine to check your viral load.
  • Emtricitabine belongs to a group of medicines that have caused a serious condition called lactic acidosis. Contact your doctor immediately if you suddenly feel very unwell or unusually tired, or if your breathing becomes faster than normal.
  • As your HIV comes under control, your immune system begins to recover. It may start fighting infections better than before which may make you unwell for a while. Your doctor may call this Immune Reconstitution Syndrome.
  • Treatment for HIV may change your body shape. These changes can include fat build-up, fat loss, or both. Discuss this with your doctor.
  • Do not stop taking emtricitabine without talking to your doctor first.