Genvoya side effects and how to avoid them
Genvoya is a brand-name medication manufactured by Gilead Sciences, Inc. for HIV treatment. While Genvoya is generally well tolerated, there are some potential side effects that people should be aware of. The most common side effects of Genvoya include nausea and vomiting. Less common but more serious side effects can include serious allergic reactions.
Learn more about the side effects of Genvoya and what you can do to avoid them.
What is Genvoya prescribed for?
Genvoya is a medication taken to treat HIV-1 infection. It’s prescribed to adults and children over 12 years old who weigh at least 77 lbs (35kg). Genvoya reduces the amount of the HIV virus in your body (viral load). This can help your immune system to work better and can lower your chances of getting HIV complications, like other infections and cancer.
Genvoya contains a mix of four active ingredients; emtricitabine, tenofovir alafenamide, elvitegravir, and cobicistat. They work together to reduce the amount of the HIV virus in your body. The HIV virus copies itself by invading your cells and inserting itself into your DNA. It then takes advantage of your body’s natural DNA-copying process to make copies of itself. Emtricitabine, tenofovir alafenamide, and elvitegravir are antiretroviral therapy that stops this from happening.
Elvitegravir is a type of antiviral called an integrase inhibitor. It stops the HIV virus from inserting itself into your DNA. Emtricitabine and tenofovir alafenamide are antivirals called nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors (NRTIs). They stop the virus from being copied when your DNA is copied. The fourth active ingredient, cobicistat, boosts the effects of elvitegravir. It stops enzymes in your liver from breaking down elvitegravir, keeping it working for longer.
Genvoya is available in tablet form. Each tablet contains 150 mg elvitegravir, 150 mg cobicistat, 10 mg tenofovir alafenamide fumarate and 200 mg emtricitabine.
Take one tablet daily with food. Avoid antacids containing aluminum, magnesium, or calcium within 2 hours before taking Genvoya or 2 hours after you take Genvoya, as they can make it more difficult for your body to absorb cobicistat, elvitegravir, emtricitabine, and tenofovir.
If you forget to take a dose of Genvoya, take it as soon as you remember. If it is almost time for your next dose, skip the missed dose and take your next dose at your normal scheduled time.
You are advised to read the medication guide provided with this medicine for the drug information and patient information, and always speak with your healthcare provider for medical advice about any changes to your dose so they can monitor and evaluate your condition.
Genvoya side effects
The most common possible side effects of Genvoya in clinical trials include:
- Nausea, vomiting
- Stomach pain, gas, diarrhea
- Headaches, dizziness
- Skin rashes
- Abnormal dreams
In rare instances, Genvoya can cause more serious side effects, including:
- Severe allergic reactions to the medication
- A potentially life-threatening condition called lactic acidosis caused by a build-up of lactic acid in your blood. Symptoms include muscle pain, trouble breathing, stomach pain, dizziness, or tiredness
- Severe liver problems that can be fatal
- A worsening of a hepatitis B infection if you have one
- New or worsening kidney problems, including kidney disease or kidney failure
- Changes in your immune system, including a strengthening of your immune system (immune reconstitution syndrome)
- Changes in body fat and body fat distribution – often reduced fat around the legs, arms, and face, and increased fat around the back, neck, trunk, and breast
- High cholesterol
If you experience any of these serious side effects, stop taking Genvoya and seek medical attention immediately. You are encouraged to report the negative side effects of prescription drugs to the FDA. Visit www.fda.gov/medwatch, or call 1-800-FDA-1088.
Genvoya drug interactions
Genvoya can interact with other medications, including:
- Alfuzosin hydrochloride
- Carbamazepine, phenobarbital, phenytoin
- Ergot-containing medicines, like dihydroergotamine mesylate or ergotamine tartrate
- Other HIV medications, such as ritonavir
- Cobicistat, elvitegravir, emtricitabine, lamivudine, or tenofovir
- Midazolam, when taken orally
- Sildenafil, when used to treat pulmonary arterial hypertension
- Hormonal birth control such as pills, patches, or rings.
- Herbal remedies used to treat depression and anxiety that contain St. John’s wort
Before taking Genvoya, be sure to tell your doctor about all of the medications you are taking to ensure they are safe to take at the same time.
Genvoya isn’t suitable for everyone. Don’t take Genvoya if you:
- Are allergic to the active ingredients elvitegravir, cobicistat, emtricitabine, tenofovir alafenamide
- Are allergic to any of the other ingredients in Genvoya
- Are under 12 years of age, or are over 12 years old but weigh less than 77lbs (35kg)
Talk to your doctor before taking Genvoya if you:
- Are taking any of the medications that could interact with Genvoya
- Have a hepatitis B or C infection
- Have any liver problems
- Have any kidney problems
- Are pregnant or are planning to get pregnant
- Are breastfeeding or are planning to breastfeed – It is unknown if elvitegravir, cobicistat, or tenofovir alafenamide pass into breast milk
- Are lactose intolerant
You should always check with your doctor or pharmacist before taking any medication, including Genvoya, to make sure it is safe for you.
Does Genvoya cause weight gain?
Weight gain is not a recognized side effect of Genvoya. Speak to your doctor for medical advice if you experience this side effect.
What happens if you stop taking Genvoya?
Patients with HIV and hepatitis B virus may have worsening hepatitis B (HBV), which can lead to liver failure when stopping Genvoya.
Does Genvoya cause liver damage?
Genvoya may cause liver problems such as lactic acidosis and an enlarged liver. Lactic acidosis is a buildup of lactic acid in your body that can lead to severe liver problems.
How to avoid Genvoya side effects
The best way to avoid side effects is to take Genvoya as directed by your doctor. Follow your doctor’s instructions carefully, and do not take more or less than prescribed.
If you experience any side effects, talk to your doctor or pharmacist. They may be able to recommend ways to help reduce or prevent some of the side effects.
1. Stick to the recommended dosage
Take your prescribed dose of Genvoya recommended by your healthcare professional. Do not take more or less than prescribed.
2. Monitor your blood sugar levels
If you have diabetes, it is important to monitor your blood sugar levels closely while taking Genvoya. Check your blood sugar levels as directed by your doctor and report any changes to your doctor immediately.
3. Drink plenty of fluids
Drink eight to 10 glasses of water or fluids every day to help prevent dehydration, which can make side effects worse.
4. Don’t skip meals
Eating regular meals and snacks will help to prevent low blood sugar levels (hypoglycemia).
5. Check your feet
If you have diabetes, check your feet for any cuts, sores, or redness regularly. Tell your doctor if you experience any problems with your feet while taking Genvoya.
6. Know the signs and symptoms of Genvoya side effects
Signs and symptoms of side effects include stomach pain, nausea, and vomiting. If you experience any of these symptoms, speak to your doctor for medical advice.
7. Tell your doctor about all medications you’re taking
Be sure to tell your doctor about all other medications you’re taking, including over-the-counter drugs, vitamins, and herbal supplements, as they can interact with Genvoya.
8. Get regular medical checkups
It is important to get regular medical checkups and monitor your medical conditions. Your doctor will monitor your side effects and may adjust your dose of Genvoya as needed.
A medical professional has reviewed this article.
Dr. Jamie Winn received his Doctor of Pharmacy in 2002 from the University of South Carolina College of Pharmacy, Columbia, SC. Jamie is a medical reviewer for NiceRx.