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What is Intelence (Etravirine) Used For? Side Effects and Dosage

What is Intelence (Etravirine) Used For? Side Effects and Dosage

What is Intelence (Etravirine)?

Intelence, also referred to as etravirine, is a medication used in the treatment of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), the virus responsible for the development of acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) in the human body. Intelence is a non-nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitor (NNRTI), a class of medications designed to prevent the creation of viral DNA in a patient via an enzyme called reverse transcriptase. The drug was introduced in 2008 and is marketed in North America by Belgian pharmaceutical company Jannsen.

What is It Used For?

As discussed above, Intelence is used in the treatment of individuals with HIV, specifically HIV Type 1 (HIV-1). HIV-1 is more common than its less infectious counterpart, HIV-2; it accounts for approximately 95 per cent of worldwide HIV infections. This medication is used to treat patients who are treatment experienced, meaning they have received prior HIV medications for their infection that the virus proved resistant to, such as efavirenz (trade named Sustiva) and nevirapine (trade named Viramune).

As an NNRTI, its mechanism of action is to bind to the reverse-transcriptase molecule, a human enzyme exploited by the virus in its reproduction cycle, allowing it to create viral DNA from ribonucleic acid. Intelence, once bound to the molecule, inhibits the transfer of genetic information that directs proteins in the DNA creation process, which, if left uncontrolled, would cause the patient’s viral load to increase. As such, Intelence has proven to be a very effective treatment for HIV-1, but not a complete cure.

How to Take Etravirine

Intelence is available in the form of small, off-white tablets in three different sizes (25, 100, and 200 mg), intended to be taken orally by being swallowed whole. Tablets should not be crushed or chewed. For patients with difficulty swallowing tablets, the tablet may be dissolved in 5 mL (1 teaspoon) of water or orange juice and ingested once the mixture becomes cloudy. In order to reduce the risk of severe side effects, the drug should be taken immediately following a meal whenever possible in order to maximize its absorption by the body. As with many medications, grapefruit and grapefruit juice should be avoided while taking Intelence, as this can negatively affect the medication’s levels in the blood.

Intelence Side Effects

Various side effects associated with other HIV medications have been observed in patients taking Intelence. To reduce the risk of side effects, prospective patients should consult with their health care provider regarding any other medications being taken, as these may interact with Intelence and increase the likelihood and severity of side effects.

The following are common and often manageable side effects of taking Intelence:

  • nausea
  • diarrhea
  • changes in body fat shape and location
  • numbness in hands or feet
  • insomnia
  • heartburn

The following are less common, but more severe side effects that may require immediate medical attention:

  • rash
  • anxiety
  • excessive sweating
  • fever
  • weakness
  • mouth ulcers
  • discoloring of urine or stool
  • wheezing, coughing, or shortness of breath
  • stomach pain
  • allergic reaction symptoms, such as swelling of the face, skin pain, or hives

It should be noted that the safety of taking Intelence while pregnant has not yet been evaluated. As such, pregnant women should avoid the medication unless the risks of treatment have been assessed by their health care provider.

Dosage

Intelence is intended to be taken by individuals weighing at least 10 kg (22 lbs) and who are at least 2 years of age. In patients whose weights range between 10 and 30 kg (66 lbs), the dosage is to be determined by their health care provider, increasing incrementally depending on body weight, and starting at 100 mg, twice daily. This is taken in the form of either 25 mg or 100 mg tablets. For patients weighing 30 kg and above, the dosage is 200 mg, twice daily, taken as any combination of the available tablet sizes.

If a dose is missed, patients are advised to take their medication following their next meal. If a dose has been missed by more than six hours, patients should instead wait until their next scheduled dose, and should not take a double dose to compensate.

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