Tenofovir is a prescription drug. It comes as an oral tablet and oral powder.
Tenofovir oral tablet is available as a generic drug and as the brand-name drugs Viread and Vemlidy.
This drug is used as part of a combination therapy. That means you’ll likely take this drug in combination with other drugs to treat your condition.
Why it’s used
Tenofovir is used to treat:
- HIV infection, in combination with other antiretroviral drugs. This drug doesn’t eliminate the virus entirely, but it helps to control it.
- chronic hepatitis B virus infection.
How it works
Tenofovir belongs to a class of drugs called nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors (NRTIs). It’s also a hepatitis B virus reverse transcriptase inhibitor (RTI). A class of drugs is a group of medications that work in a similar way. These drugs are often used to treat similar conditions.
Tenofovir works in the same way for both HIV infection and chronic hepatitis B virus infections. It blocks the effectiveness of reverse transcriptase, an enzyme required for each virus to make copies of itself. Blocking reverse transcriptase can reduce the amount of the virus in your blood.
Tenofovir can also increase CD4 cell count. CD4 cells are white blood cells that fight infection.
Tenofovir oral tablet doesn’t cause drowsiness, but it can cause other side effects.
More common side effects
The more common side effects that occur with tenofovir include:
- back pain
- trouble sleeping
- nausea or vomiting
If these effects are mild, they may go away within a few days or a couple of weeks. If they’re more severe or don’t go away, talk to your doctor or pharmacist.
Serious side effects
Call your doctor right away if you have serious side effects. Call 911 if your symptoms feel life-threatening or if you think you’re having a medical emergency. Serious side effects and their symptoms can include the following:
- Lactic acidosis. Symptoms can include:
- muscle pain
- stomach pain with nausea and vomiting
- irregular or rapid heartbeat
- trouble breathing
- feelings of coldness in the legs or arms
- Liver enlargement. Symptoms can include:
- dark urine
- abdominal pain or discomfort
- yellowing skin
- Worsening hepatitis B virus infection. Symptoms can include:
- abdominal pain
- dark urine
- yellowing of the skin and the whites of your eyes (jaundice)
- Decreased bone mineral density
- Immune reconstitution syndrome. Symptoms can include those of past infections.
- Kidney damage and reduced kidney function. This can happen slowly without many symptoms, or cause symptoms such as:
Disclaimer: Our goal is to provide you with the most relevant and current information. However, because drugs affect each person differently, we cannot guarantee that this information includes all possible side effects. This information is not a substitute for medical advice. Always discuss possible side effects with a healthcare provider who knows your medical history.
Tenofovir oral tablet can interact with other medications, vitamins, or herbs you may be taking. An interaction is when a substance changes the way a drug works. This can be harmful or prevent the drug from working well.
To help avoid interactions, your doctor should manage all of your medications carefully. Be sure to tell your doctor about all medications, vitamins, or herbs you’re taking. To find out how this drug might interact with something else you’re taking, talk to your doctor or pharmacist.
Examples of drugs that can cause interactions with tenofovir are listed below.
Antibiotics from the aminoglycoside group
Taking certain antibiotics with tenofovir can increase your risk of kidney damage. These drugs are mainly intravenous (IV) drugs given in hospitals. They include:
Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
While taking tenofovir, don’t use high doses of NSAIDs, take more than one at a time, or take them for long periods of time. Doing these things may result in kidney damage. Examples of NSAIDs include:
Hepatitis B virus drug
Do not use adefovir dipivoxil (Hepsera) together with tenofovir.
Taking antiviral drugs with tenofovir can increase your risk of kidney damage. Examples of these drugs include:
If you need to take certain HIV drugs with tenofovir, your doctor may change your dosage of tenofovir or the other HIV drug. Examples of these drugs include:
- atazanavir (Reyataz, alone or “boosted” with ritonavir)
- darunavir (Prezista), “boosted” with ritonavir
- didanosine (Videx)
- lopinavir/ritonavir (Kaletra)
The HIV drugs below all contain tenofovir. Taking these medications together with tenofovir will increase the amount of tenofovir you’re getting. Getting too much of the drug can increase your risk of side effects. Some of these side effects could be serious, such as kidney damage.
Examples of these drugs include:
- efavirenz/emtricitabine/tenofovir (Atripla)
- bictegravir/emtricitabine/tenofovir alafenamide (Biktarvy)
- emtricitabine/rilpirivine/tenofovir (Complera)
- emtricitabine/tenofovir (Descovy)