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Sofosbuvir tablet: A powerful antiviral for hepatitis C
What is Sofosbuvir and how does it work?
Sofosbuvir is a medicine that belongs to the class of antivirals. It works by stopping the hepatitis C virus (HCV) from multiplying in your body. This helps to reduce the amount of virus in your blood and improve your liver function.
Sofosbuvir is not a standalone treatment for hepatitis C. It is always used in combination with other antiviral medicines, such as ribavirin (Copegus, Rebetol, Ribasphere, RibaTab) and peginterferon alfa (Pegasys, PegIntron). Depending on the type (genotype) of hepatitis C you have, you may also need to take another antiviral medicine called daclatasvir (Daklinza).
Sofosbuvir can be used to treat hepatitis C in adults who also have HIV, or who have liver cancer and are waiting for a liver transplant. However, Sofosbuvir is not a cure for HIV or AIDS, and it does not prevent the spread of hepatitis C to others.
What are the benefits of Sofosbuvir?
Sofosbuvir has been shown to be very effective in treating hepatitis C, especially in combination with other antiviral medicines. Clinical trials have found that Sofosbuvir can cure more than 90% of people with hepatitis C genotype 1, 2, 3, or 4 infection, including those who have previously failed other treatments.
Sofosbuvir can also help to prevent the complications of hepatitis C, such as liver damage, cirrhosis, liver cancer, and liver failure. By clearing the virus from your body, Sofosbuvir can improve your quality of life and reduce the risk of transmitting the infection to others.
What are the risks and side effects of Sofosbuvir?
Sofosbuvir is generally well tolerated, but it may cause some side effects. The most common side effects are headache, fatigue, itching, nausea, and insomnia. These are usually mild and temporary, and can be managed with over-the-counter medicines or by adjusting your dose.
However, some side effects can be serious and require medical attention. These include:
Allergic reaction: Symptoms include hives, difficulty breathing, and swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat. If you have an allergic reaction to Sofosbuvir, stop taking it and seek emergency help.
Anemia: This is a condition where you have low levels of red blood cells, which carry oxygen in your blood. Symptoms include pale skin, dizziness, shortness of breath, fast heart rate, and trouble concentrating. Anemia can be caused by Sofosbuvir or by ribavirin, which is often used with Sofosbuvir. If you have anemia, your doctor may adjust your dose or prescribe you supplements.
Infection: Sofosbuvir can lower your white blood cell count, which makes you more prone to infections. Symptoms include fever, swollen gums, mouth sores, skin sores, cold or flu symptoms, and cough. If you have an infection, your doctor may prescribe you antibiotics or antivirals.
Some other medicines can interact with Sofosbuvir and affect its effectiveness or safety. These include:
Amiodarone: This is a medicine used to treat irregular heartbeats. It can cause a serious and potentially fatal reaction when taken with Sofosbuvir. Symptoms include slow heart rate, fainting, and shortness of breath. If you are taking amiodarone, do not take Sofosbuvir without your doctor's approval.
St. John's wort: This is a herbal supplement used to treat depression and anxiety. It can reduce the blood levels of Sofosbuvir and make it less effective. If you are taking St. John's wort, stop taking it at least two weeks before starting Sofosbuvir.
Tipranavir: This is an antiviral medicine used to treat HIV. It can increase the blood levels of Sofosbuvir and increase the risk of side effects. If you are taking tipranavir, your doctor may adjust your dose of Sofosbuvir.
Seizure medicines: These include carbamazepine, oxcarbazepine, phenobarbital, and phenytoin. They can lower the blood levels of Sofosbuvir and make it less effective. If you are taking any of these medicines, your doctor may adjust your dose of Sofosbuvir.
Tuberculosis medicines: These include rifabutin, rifampin, and rifapentine. They can lower the blood levels of Sofosbuvir and make it less effective. If you are taking any of these medicines, your doctor may adjust your dose of Sofosbuvir.
This is not a complete list of possible interactions. Tell your doctor about all the medicines, vitamins, and herbal products you are using before starting Sofosbuvir.
How to use Sofosbuvir?
Sofosbuvir comes in the form of a tablet that you swallow with water. The usual dose is 400 mg once a day. You can take it with or without food, but try to take it at the same time every day.
Do not take Sofosbuvir alone. Always take it in combination with other antiviral medicines, as prescribed by your doctor. Follow the instructions on the label and the medication guide carefully. Do not change your dose or stop taking Sofosbuvir without your doctor's advice.
The duration of treatment depends on the type of hepatitis C you have, your response to the treatment, and your medical condition. Your doctor will tell you how long you need to take Sofosbuvir. The usual duration is 12 to 24 weeks, but it may be longer in some cases.
While taking Sofosbuvir, you will need to have regular blood tests to monitor your liver function, viral load, and blood cell counts. Your doctor will also check for signs of improvement or worsening of your condition.
Store Sofosbuvir in its original container at room temperature, away from moisture and heat. Keep it out of reach of children and pets.
What to do if you miss a dose or overdose?
If you miss a dose of Sofosbuvir, take it as soon as you remember, unless it is almost time for your next dose. In that case, skip the missed dose and take the next one as usual. Do not take two doses at once to make up for the missed one.
If you take more than the recommended dose of Sofosbuvir, call your doctor or the poison control center at 1-800-222-1222. Symptoms of overdose may include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and drowsiness.
What to avoid while taking Sofosbuvir?
While taking Sofosbuvir, you should avoid the following:
Alcohol: Drinking alcohol can worsen your liver condition and increase the risk of side effects. Limit your alcohol intake or avoid it altogether while taking Sofosbuvir.
Grapefruit: Eating grapefruit or drinking grapefruit juice can increase the blood levels of Sofosbuvir and increase the risk of side effects. Avoid grapefruit products while taking Sofosbuvir.
Unprotected sex: Sofosbuvir does not prevent you from passing hepatitis C to others through sexual contact. Use condoms or other barrier methods to protect yourself and your partner from infection.
Sharing needles: Sofosbuvir does not prevent you from passing hepatitis C to others through blood contact. Do not share needles, syringes, or other injection equipment with anyone.
Pregnancy: Sofosbuvir can harm an unborn baby if taken by a pregnant woman or a man whose partner is pregnant. If you are a woman, do not take Sofosbuvir if you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant. If you are a man, do not take Sofosbuvir if your partner is pregnant or may become pregnant. Use effective birth control methods while taking Sofosbuvir and for at least six months after the end of treatment. Tell your doctor right away if you or your partner becomes pregnant while taking Sofosbuvir.
Breastfeeding: It is not known if Sofosbuvir passes into breast milk or if it can affect a nursing baby. Do not breastfeed while taking Sofosbuvir.
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