In this session, we will be discussing the consumer medication information for sofosbuvir, trade name SovaldiTM.
What it’s for & How to take
Sofosbuvir is an antiviral medication that is used, along with other antiviral medications, such as ribavirin or peginterferon alpha, to treat Hepatitis C. Sofosbuvir works by decreasing the amount of Hepatitis C virus in your body. This medication is never taken as a single therapy.
Hepatitis means inflammation of the liver. Toxins, certain drugs, some diseases, heavy alcohol use, and bacterial and viral infections can all cause hepatitis. Hepatitis is also the name of a family of viral infections that affect the liver. The most common types are Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B, and Hepatitis C.
Hepatitis C is a contagious liver disease that ranges in severity from a mild illness lasting a few weeks to a serious, lifelong illness that attacks the liver. The Hepatitis C virus is spread primarily through contact with the blood of an infected person.
Sofosbuvir may treat hepatitis C in the person it is prescribed for, it is not known if this medication will prevent the spread of hepatitis C to other people.
Sofosbuvir is available as a tablet and is usually ordered to be taken once daily, with or without food. This medication works best when a constant level is maintained in your body. Take your dose at the same time each day.
If you miss a dose of this medication, please take it as soon as you remember. If it is within 12 hours of your next dose, skip it and continue with your normal dose time. Do not take a double dose to make up the missed dose.
Sofosbuvir is usually taken with peginterferon alfa and ribavirin for 12 weeks. If sofosbuvir is taken in combination with ribavirin alone, it usually taken from 12-24 weeks. When treating liver cancer and waiting for a liver transplant, sofosbuvir is taken with ribavirin for up to 48 weeks, or until the day of the liver transplant.
Your duration of treatment will depend on your condition, response to treatment, and how severe your side effects are. Do not stop taking your medication without talking to your doctor first.
This medication is sometimes used to treat other conditions. Talk with your doctor of pharmacist if you are prescribed this medication to treat something that is not listed here.
Most Important Warnings
- Current or previous Hepatitis B infections may be re-activated when Hepatitis C infections are treated with this medication. Rarely, this may lead to liver failure or death.
- Patients treated for Hepatitis C should be screened for evidence of Hepatitis B before, during and after treatment with this medication.
Other Warnings & Cautions
- When this medication is taken with heart rhythm medications, some patients have developed a slow heartbeat. Call your doctor right away if you develop symptoms of a slow heartbeat such as dizziness or lightheadedness.
- Tell your doctor if you are pregnant or might become pregnant. If you are male, tell your doctor if your partner is pregnant or might become pregnant. Sofosbuvir is usually taken with ribavirin which can seriously harm the fetus. You must use two methods of birth control to prevent pregnancy in you or your partner during treatment with these medications and for 6 months after your treatment. Talk to your doctor about which birth control method will be most effective for you.
- Hormonal contraceptives may not work well in women who are taking these medications. You or your partner must be tested for pregnancy before treatment, every month during treatment, and for 6 months after treatment is complete. If you or your partner becomes pregnant while taking these medications or within 6 months after treatment, call your doctor immediately.
- Let your pharmacist or doctor know if you are breastfeeding before taking this medication.
- This medication may make you dizzy, drowsy, or blur your vision. Do not drive or do any activity that requires focus and attention until you are sure you can do them safely. Avoid alcoholic beverages while taking this medication.
Interactions & Side Effects
- Tell your pharmacist or doctor all your medication allergies so they may determine if sofosbuvir is safe for you to take.
- Avoid dangerous drug interactions. Medications that affect liver metabolism may significantly change how well this medication works. Tell your pharmacist or doctor all the other medication you are taking, including over the counter supplements, even if you don’t take them very often.
- Ask your doctor if this medication is safe to take with your current health conditions. Tell your doctor if you have any kidney disease, heart disease, immune system problems or any other type of liver disease.
- While taking this medication, you may feel some tiredness, headache, sleep disorders, a slight cough, and perhaps some nausea or diarrhea. If these or any other unwanted side effects persist, contact your doctor or pharmacist to talk about it with them.
- Call your doctor right away if you have any excessive tiredness, confusion or memory problems, fainting, slow heartbeat, or a skin rash that may happen with blisters and swelling.
- Call emergency 911 if you have any symptoms of a heart attack such as chest and left arm pain, shortness of breath and sweating or if you have symptoms of a stroke such as weakness on one side of your body, slurred speech, sudden vision changes, and confusion.
If you have any questions about what you have heard, contact your pharmacist or doctor. This session does not include all the potential interactions or side effects that this medication may cause. Ask your pharmacist how your medication should be stored and how you should dispose of it when you are done taking it. Do not share your medication with anyone, ever. Remember, this is not meant to replace your counseling session with your pharmacist. In case of overdose, call your local poison control center at 1-800-222-1222.