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What should I discuss with my healthcare provider before taking nevirapine (Viramune, Viramune XR)?
Nevirapine can cause life-threatening effects on the liver. Call your doctor at once if you have any of these liver symptoms while taking nevirapine: skin rash, nausea, stomach pain, loss of appetite, low fever, dark urine, clay-colored stools, jaundice (yellowing of the skin or eyes).
Nevirapine may also cause severe or life-threatening skin reactions. Contact your doctor at once if you have fever, sore throat, swelling in your face or tongue, burning in your eyes, skin pain, followed by a red or purple skin rash that spreads (especially in the face or upper body) and causes blistering and peeling. This type of reaction is a medical emergency.
Do not use this medication if you are allergic to nevirapine, or if you have moderate to severe liver disease.
The following drugs should not be used while you are taking nevirapine:
To make sure you can safely take nevirapine, tell your doctor if you have any of these other conditions:
FDA pregnancy category B. Nevirapine is not expected to be harmful to an unborn baby. However, nevirapine may be more likely to cause liver damage in a pregnant woman. Tell your doctor if you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant during treatment.
HIV can be passed to your baby if you are not properly treated during pregnancy. Take all of your HIV medicines as directed to control your infection.
Nevirapine can make birth control pills less effective. Ask your doctor about using a non-hormone method of birth control (such as a condom, diaphragm, spermicide) to prevent pregnancy while taking nevirapine.
If you are pregnant, your name may be listed on a pregnancy registry. This is to track the outcome of the pregnancy and to evaluate any effects of nevirapine on the baby.
Women with HIV or AIDS should not breast-feed a baby. Even if your baby is born without HIV, the virus may be passed to the baby in your breast milk.
How should I take nevirapine (Viramune, Viramune XR)?
Take exactly as prescribed by your doctor. Do not take in larger or smaller amounts or for longer than recommended. Follow the directions on your prescription label.
Nevirapine is usually taken only once daily for the first 2 weeks, and then increased to twice daily. Starting with a low dose can reduce your risk of skin reactions. Follow your doctor's instructions about how often to take the medication.
If you stop taking nevirapine for longer than 7 days, call your doctor before you start taking the medicine again. You may have to start with a lower dose.
Nevirapine can be taken with or without food. You may also take the medicine with milk or a soft drink.
Do not crush, chew, or break an extended-release tablet. Swallow it whole. Breaking the pill may cause too much of the drug to be released at one time.
Shake the oral suspension (liquid) well just before you measure a dose. Measure the liquid with a special dose-measuring spoon or medicine cup, not with a regular table spoon. If you do not have a dose-measuring device, ask your pharmacist for one.
To be sure this medication is helping your condition, your blood cells and liver function will need to be tested often, especially during the first 6 to 18 weeks of treatment. Visit your doctor regularly.
Use nevirapine regularly to get the most benefit. Get your prescription refilled before you run out of medicine completely.
Do not take nevirapine as your only HIV medication. HIV/AIDS is usually treated with a combination of different drugs. Your disease may become resistant to nevirapine if you do not take it in combination with other HIV medicines your doctor has prescribed.
Use all medications as directed by your doctor. Read the medication guide or patient instructions provided with each medication. Do not change your doses or medication schedule without your doctor's advice. Every person with HIV or AIDS should remain under the care of a doctor.
Store at room temperature away from moisture and heat.
Report Problems to the Food and Drug Administration
You are encouraged to report negative side effects of prescription drugs to the FDA. Visit the FDA MedWatch website or call 1-800-FDA-1088.
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Resources for Staying Well
- HIV-AIDS: Myths and Facts
- Understanding The Symptoms of AIDS/HIV
- The Top 10 Myths and Misconceptions About HIV and AIDS