Biktarvy – Uses, Side Effects, Dosage, Alcohol, Overdose, Pregnancy

Biktarvy is the brand name of a combination of drugs called bictegravir, emtricitabine, and tenofovir alafenamide.

Tenofovir alafenamide and emtricitabine are two drugs which are considered the “backbone” of HIV treatments. Bictegravir is an unboosted integrase strand transfer inhibitor (INSTI).

Integrase inhibitors block integrase – an HIV enzyme (an enzyme is a protein which increases the speed or starts a chemical reaction). By blocking this enzyme, this drug can reduce the amount of HIV in the body by preventing HIV from multiplying.

Integrase inhibitors medicines are typically among the first HIV drugs used in sufferers who have recently contracted HIV since they function efficiently and have minimal side effects in the human body.

This type of medicines (integrase inhibitors) has turned HIV/AIDS from a death sentence into a manageable condition. However, sufferers need to stay on treatment for life, hence,  there is a growing focus on making drugs with little side effects as much as possible.

This medicine is produced by Gilead Sciences, Inc. and it was first approved by the US Food and Drug Administration for the treatment of HIV-1 infection on February 7, 2018.

Uses

The treatment combines three drugs (bictegravir, emtricitabine, and tenofovir alafenamide) into one daily pill to treat human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection in adults.

HIV is a virus which affects the immune system, specifically the CD4 cells. These cells help protect the human body from illness. Since the first human was infected with HIV, HIV/AIDS has claimed the lives of an estimated 35 million people. Moreover, in the present day, over 35 million people are infected.

HIV is transmitted from person-to-person from contact with semen and/or vaginal fluid, infected blood as well as from using infected syringes, needles, or drug equipment.

HIV Symptoms

According to statistics, ever 80 percent of individuals who have been infected with HIV experience a flu-like illness. The symptoms typically last 14 days, but they can last even longer. They are an actual sign that the immune system is putting up a fight against the HIV virus.

The most common symptoms may include:

  • body rash;
  • swollen glands;
  • a sore throat;
  • muscle pain;
  • fever;
  • joint pain;
  • tiredness.

After the early stage of HIV infection, the virus moves into the clinical latency stage. This can be referred to as chronic HIV infection. In this stage, the virus is active, but it reproduces at much lower rates in the human body.

During the chronic HIV infection, an infected individual may not have any symptoms. For instance, some individuals who are not taking any HIV drugs may remain in this phase for a decade or more. Nevertheless, other patients may progress past this stage much faster.

The problem is that if you have this infection and you are not on HIV medicines, eventually the HIV will weaken the human body’s immune system and the patient will progress to acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS), the late stage of HIV infection. During this stage, the sufferers can experience symptoms like:

  • depression;
  • rapid weight loss;
  • memory loss;
  • pneumonia;
  • neurologic disorders;
  • brown, red, or pink blotches inside the nose, mouth, or eyelids or under/on the skin;
  • sores of the anus, mouth, or genitals;
  • diarrhea which lasts for more than seven days;
  • prolonged swelling of the lymph glands in the groin, armpits, or neck;
  • unexplained and extreme tiredness;
  • profuse night sweats.

Dosage

Each tablet contains 25 mg tenofovir alafenamide, 50 mg bictegravir, and 200 mg emtricitabine.

This medicine is a complete one-pill, a once-daily drug regimen that can be taken without or with food. Therefore, the usual recommended dose for an adult is 1 tablet once per day.

Side Effects And Precautions of Biktarvy

Because this medicine is usually administered in combination regimens, it is hard to determine the exact side effects which are associated with a specific drug within that class. Nevertheless, the most common side effects may include:

  • fatigue;
  • diarrhea;
  • insomnia;
  • headaches;
  • nausea.

Rare side effects may include:

  • changes in liver tests;
  • abnormal dreams;
  • depression;
  • tiredness;
  • dizziness;
  • spinning sensation (vertigo);
  • allergic reactions;
  • changes in the immune system;
  • changes in body fat.

Before you take this medicine, tell your doctor if you:

  • have any other medical conditions;
  • have had liver problems, like – hepatitis B or C infection;
  • have a kidney disease;
  • have ever had an allergic reaction to any type of medicines.

Pregnancy

Since there are no conclusive clinical studies about the safe use of this medicine during pregnancy or whether it will harm the unborn baby, tell your doctor if you are pregnant or plan to get pregnant before using this drug. Also, do not breastfeed if you take this medicine because if you have HIV-1, the risk of passing HIV-1 to your baby is very high. Talk with your doctor about the best method to feed your baby.

Alcohol

Combining any type of medicines with alcohol can be dangerous to your health since alcohol can increase the risk of side effects and can interfere with some medicines, making them less effective.

Overdose

If you experience an overdose, call your local poison center, which can be reached directly by calling the national toll-free Poison Help hotline (1-800-222-1222), or your local emergency number.

Drug Interactions

This medicine may negatively interact with other drugs, including:

  • ulcer medicine sucralfate (Carafate);
  • rifampin, an antibiotic used to treat a few types of bacterial infections, like – leprosy, tuberculosis, and Legionnaire’s disease;
  • oral diabetes medication which contains metformin (the first-line drug for the treatment of type 2 diabetes mellitus);
  • atazanavir, an antiretroviral drug that is used to treat and prevent HIV/AIDS. Other HIV or AIDS medicines, like – etravirine, efavirenz, nevirapine, or fosamprenavir/ritonavir;
  • buffered medicine;
  • laxatives or antacids which contain magnesium, calcium, or aluminum, like – Di-Gel Maalox, Amphojel, Mylanta, Milk of Magnesia, Rolaids, Pepcid Complete, Tums, or Rulox;
  • St. John’s wort;
  • supplements which contain calcium or iron;
  • seizure medication, including – oxcarbazepine, carbamazepine, phenytoin, and phenobarbital.
References

http://www.gilead.com/news/press-releases/2018/2/us-food-and-drug-administration-
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/business/2018/02/08/gsk-sues-us-rival-alleged-hiv
https://www.reuters.com/article/brief-gilead-sciences-says-fda-approves/brief