February 10, 2016
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Included as part of the PRECAUTIONS section.


Drug Interactions

Efavirenz plasma concentrations may be altered by substrates, inhibitors, or inducers of CYP3A. Likewise, efavirenz may alter plasma concentrations of drugs metabolized by CYP3A or CYP2B6. The most prominent effect of efavirenz at steady-state is induction of CYP3A and CYP2B6. [See DOSAGE AND ADMINISTRATION and DRUG INTERACTIONS]


SUSTIVA must not be used as a single agent to treat HIV-1 infection or added on as a sole agent to a failing regimen. Resistant virus emerges rapidly when efavirenz is administered as monotherapy. The choice of new antiretroviral agents to be used in combination with efavirenz should take into consideration the potential for viral cross-resistance.

Coadministration With Related Products

Coadministration of SUSTIVA with ATRIPLA (efavirenz 600 mg/emtricitabine 200 mg/tenofovir disoproxil fumarate 300 mg) is not recommended unless needed for dose adjustment (eg, with rifampin), since efavirenz is one of its active ingredients.

Psychiatric Symptoms

Serious psychiatric adverse experiences have been reported in patients treated with SUSTIVA. In controlled trials of 1008 patients treated with regimens containing SUSTIVA for a mean of 2.1 years and 635 patients treated with control regimens for a mean of 1.5 years, the frequency (regardless of causality) of specific serious psychiatric events among patients who received SUSTIVA or control regimens, respectively, were severe depression (2.4%, 0.9%), suicidal ideation (0.7%, 0.3%), nonfatal suicide attempts (0.5%, 0), aggressive behavior (0.4%, 0.5%), paranoid reactions (0.4%, 0.3%), and manic reactions (0.2%, 0.3%). When psychiatric symptoms similar to those noted above were combined and evaluated as a group in a multifactorial analysis of data from Study 006, treatment with efavirenz was associated with an increase in the occurrence of these selected psychiatric symptoms. Other factors associated with an increase in the occurrence of these psychiatric symptoms were history of injection drug use, psychiatric history, and receipt of psychiatric medication at study entry; similar associations were observed in both the SUSTIVA and control treatment groups. In Study 006, onset of new serious psychiatric symptoms occurred throughout the study for both SUSTIVA-treated and control-treated patients. One percent of SUSTIVA-treated patients discontinued or interrupted treatment because of one or more of these selected psychiatric symptoms. There have also been occasional postmarketing reports of death by suicide, delusions, and psychosis-like behavior, although a causal relationship to the use of SUSTIVA cannot be determined from these reports. Patients with serious psychiatric adverse experiences should seek immediate medical evaluation to assess the possibility that the symptoms may be related to the use of SUSTIVA, and if so, to determine whether the risks of continued therapy outweigh the benefits. [See ADVERSE REACTIONS]

Nervous System Symptoms

Fifty-three percent (531/1008) of patients receiving SUSTIVA in controlled trials reported central nervous system symptoms (any grade, regardless of causality) compared to 25% (156/635) of patients receiving control regimens [see ADVERSE REACTIONS , Table 3]. These symptoms included, but were not limited to, dizziness (28.1% of the 1008 patients), insomnia (16.3%), impaired concentration (8.3%), somnolence (7.0%), abnormal dreams (6.2%), and hallucinations (1.2%).

These symptoms were severe in 2.0% of patients, and 2.1% of patients discontinued therapy as a result. These symptoms usually begin during the first or second day of therapy and generally resolve after the first 2-4 weeks of therapy. After 4 weeks of therapy, the prevalence of nervous system symptoms of at least moderate severity ranged from 5% to 9% in patients treated with regimens containing SUSTIVA and from 3% to 5% in patients treated with a control regimen. Patients should be informed that these common symptoms were likely to improve with continued therapy and were not predictive of subsequent onset of the less frequent psychiatric symptoms [see WARNINGS AND PRECAUTIONS]. Dosing at bedtime may improve the tolerability of these nervous system symptoms [see DOSAGE AND ADMINISTRATION].

Analysis of long-term data from Study 006 (median follow-up 180 weeks, 102 weeks, and 76 weeks for patients treated with SUSTIVA + zidovudine + lamivudine, SUSTIVA + indinavir, and indinavir + zidovudine + lamivudine, respectively) showed that, beyond 24 weeks of therapy, the incidences of new-onset nervous system symptoms among SUSTIVA-treated patients were generally similar to those in the indinavir-containing control arm.

Patients receiving SUSTIVA should be alerted to the potential for additive central nervous system effects when SUSTIVA is used concomitantly with alcohol or psychoactive drugs.

Patients who experience central nervous system symptoms such as dizziness, impaired concentration, and/or drowsiness should avoid potentially hazardous tasks such as driving or operating machinery.

Reproductive Risk Potential

Pregnancy Category D

Efavirenz may cause fetal harm when administered during the first trimester to a pregnant woman. Pregnancy should be avoided in women receiving SUSTIVA. Barrier contraception must always be used in combination with other methods of contraception (eg, oral or other hormonal contraceptives). Because of the long half-life of efavirenz, use of adequate contraceptive measures for 12 weeks after discontinuation of SUSTIVA is recommended. Women of childbearing potential should undergo pregnancy testing before initiation of SUSTIVA. If this drug is used during the first trimester of pregnancy, or if the patient becomes pregnant while taking this drug, the patient should be apprised of the potential harm to the fetus.

There are no adequate and well-controlled studies in pregnant women. SUSTIVA should be used during pregnancy only if the potential benefit justifies the potential risk to the fetus, such as in pregnant women without other therapeutic options. [See Use In Specific Populations]


In controlled clinical trials, 26% (266/1008) of adult patients treated with 600 mg SUSTIVA experienced new-onset skin rash compared with 17% (111/635) of those treated in control groups [see ADVERSE REACTIONS]. Rash associated with blistering, moist desquamation, or ulceration occurred in 0.9% (9/1008) of patients treated with SUSTIVA. The incidence of Grade 4 rash (eg, erythema multiforme, Stevens-Johnson syndrome) in adult patients treated with SUSTIVA in all studies and expanded access was 0.1%. Rashes are usually mild-to-moderate maculopapular skin eruptions that occur within the first 2 weeks of initiating therapy with efavirenz (median time to onset of rash in adults was 11 days) and, in most patients continuing therapy with efavirenz, rash resolves within 1 month (median duration, 16 days). The discontinuation rate for rash in adult clinical trials was 1.7% (17/1008).

Rash was reported in 59 of 182 pediatric patients (32%) treated with SUSTIVA [see ADVERSE REACTIONS]. Two pediatric patients experienced Grade 3 rash (confluent rash with fever, generalized rash), and four patients had Grade 4 rash (erythema multiforme). The median time to onset of rash in pediatric patients was 28 days (range 3-1642 days). Prophylaxis with appropriate antihistamines before initiating therapy with SUSTIVA in pediatric patients should be considered.

SUSTIVA can be reinitiated in patients interrupting therapy because of rash. SUSTIVA should be discontinued in patients developing severe rash associated with blistering, desquamation, mucosal involvement, or fever. Appropriate antihistamines and/or corticosteroids may improve the tolerability and hasten the resolution of rash. For patients who have had a life-threatening cutaneous reaction (eg, Stevens-Johnson syndrome), alternative therapy should be considered [see also CONTRAINDICATIONS].


Monitoring of liver enzymes before and during treatment is recommended for patients with underlying hepatic disease, including hepatitis B or C infection; patients with marked transaminase elevations; and patients treated with other medications associated with liver toxicity [see ADVERSE REACTIONS and Use In Specific Populations]. A few of the postmarketing reports of hepatic failure occurred in patients with no pre-existing hepatic disease or other identifiable risk factors [see ADVERSE REACTIONS]. Liver enzyme monitoring should also be considered for patients without pre-existing hepatic dysfunction or other risk factors. In patients with persistent elevations of serum transaminases to greater than five times the upper limit of the normal range, the benefit of continued therapy with SUSTIVA needs to be weighed against the unknown risks of significant liver toxicity.


Convulsions have been observed in adult and pediatric patients receiving efavirenz, generally in the presence of known medical history of seizures [see Nonclinical Toxicology]. Caution must be taken in any patient with a history of seizures. Patients who are receiving concomitant anticonvulsant medications primarily metabolized by the liver, such as phenytoin and phenobarbital, may require periodic monitoring of plasma levels [see DRUG INTERACTIONS].

Lipid Elevations

Treatment with SUSTIVA has resulted in increases in the concentration of total cholesterol and triglycerides [see ADVERSE REACTIONS]. Cholesterol and triglyceride testing should be performed before initiating SUSTIVA therapy and at periodic intervals during therapy.

Immune Reconstitution Syndrome

Immune reconstitution syndrome has been reported in patients treated with combination antiretroviral therapy, including SUSTIVA. During the initial phase of combination antiretroviral treatment, patients whose immune system responds may develop an inflammatory response to indolent or residual opportunistic infections [such as Mycobacterium avium infection, cytomegalovirus, Pneumocystis jiroveci pneumonia (PCP), or tuberculosis], which may necessitate further evaluation and treatment.

Autoimmune disorders (such as Graves' disease, polymyositis, and Guillain-Barré syndrome) have also been reported to occur in the setting of immune reconstitution; however, the time to onset is more variable, and can occur many months after initiation of treatment.

Fat Redistribution

Redistribution/accumulation of body fat including central obesity, dorsocervical fat enlargement (buffalo hump), peripheral wasting, facial wasting, breast enlargement, and “cushingoid appearance” have been observed in patients receiving antiretroviral therapy. The mechanism and long-term consequences of these events are currently unknown. A causal relationship has not been established.

Patient Counseling Information

Advise the patient to read the FDA-approved patient labeling (PATIENT INFORMATION and Instructions for Use).

Drug Interactions

A statement to patients and healthcare providers is included on the product's bottle labels: ALERT: Find out about medicines that should NOT be taken with SUSTIVA.

SUSTIVA may interact with some drugs; therefore, patients should be advised to report to their doctor the use of any other prescription or nonprescription medication.

General Information for Patients

Patients should be informed that SUSTIVA is not a cure for HIV-1 infection and patients may continue to experience illnesses associated with HIV-1 infection, including opportunistic infections. Patients should remain under the care of a physician while taking SUSTIVA.

Patients should be advised to avoid doing things that can spread HIV-1 infection to others.

  • Do not share or re-use needles or other injection equipment.
  • Do not share personal items that can have blood or body fluids on them, like toothbrushes and razor blades.
  • Do not have any kind of sex without protection. Always practice safer sex by using a latex or polyurethane condom to lower the chance of sexual contact with semen, vaginal secretions, or blood.
  • Do not breastfeed. It is not known if SUSTIVA can be passed to your baby in your breast milk and whether it could harm your baby. Also, mothers with HIV-1 should not breastfeed because HIV-1 can be passed to the baby in breast milk.
Dosing Instructions

Patients should be advised to take SUSTIVA every day as prescribed. If a patient forgets to take SUSTIVA, tell the patient to take the missed dose right away, unless it is almost time for the next dose. Advise the patient not to take 2 doses at one time and to take the next dose at the regularly scheduled time. Advise the patient to ask a healthcare provider if he/she needs help in planning the best times to take his/her medicine.

SUSTIVA must always be used in combination with other antiretroviral drugs. Patients should be advised to take SUSTIVA on an empty stomach, preferably at bedtime. Taking SUSTIVA with food increases efavirenz concentrations and may increase the frequency of adverse reactions. Dosing at bedtime may improve the tolerability of nervous system symptoms [see DOSAGE AND ADMINISTRATION and ADVERSE REACTIONS]. Healthcare providers should assist parents or caregivers in determining the best SUSTIVA dosing schedule for infants and young children.

For adult and pediatric patients who cannot swallow capsules or tablets, patients or their caregivers should be advised to read and carefully follow the instructions for administering the capsule contents in a small amount of food or infant formula [see DOSAGE AND ADMINISTRATION and FDA-approved patient labeling (PATIENT INFORMATION and Instructions for Use)]. Patients should call their healthcare provider or pharmacist if they have any questions.

Nervous System Symptoms

Patients should be informed that central nervous system symptoms (NSS) including dizziness, insomnia, impaired concentration, drowsiness, and abnormal dreams are commonly reported during the first weeks of therapy with SUSTIVA [see WARNINGS AND PRECAUTIONS]. Dosing at bedtime may improve the tolerability of these symptoms, which are likely to improve with continued therapy. Patients should be alerted to the potential for additive effects when SUSTIVA is used concomitantly with alcohol or psychoactive drugs. Patients should be instructed that if they experience NSS they should avoid potentially hazardous tasks such as driving or operating machinery.

Psychiatric Symptoms

Patients should be informed that serious psychiatric symptoms including severe depression, suicide attempts, aggressive behavior, delusions, paranoia, and psychosis-like symptoms have been reported in patients receiving SUSTIVA [see WARNINGS AND PRECAUTIONS]. If they experience severe psychiatric adverse experiences they should seek immediate medical evaluation. Patients should be advised to inform their physician of any history of mental illness or substance abuse.


Patients should be informed that a common side effect is rash [see WARNINGS AND PRECAUTIONS]. Rashes usually go away without any change in treatment. However, since rash may be serious, patients should be advised to contact their physician promptly if rash occurs.

Reproductive Risk Potential

Women receiving SUSTIVA should be instructed to avoid pregnancy [see WARNINGS AND PRECAUTIONS]. A reliable form of barrier contraception must always be used in combination with other methods of contraception, including oral or other hormonal contraception. Because of the long half-life of efavirenz, use of adequate contraceptive measures for 12 weeks after discontinuation of SUSTIVA is recommended. Women should be advised to notify their physician if they become pregnant or plan to become pregnant while taking SUSTIVA. If this drug is used during the first trimester of pregnancy, or if the patient becomes pregnant while taking this drug, she should be apprised of the potential harm to the fetus.

Fat Redistribution

Patients should be informed that redistribution or accumulation of body fat may occur in patients receiving antiretroviral therapy and that the cause and long-term health effects of these conditions are not known [see WARNINGS AND PRECAUTIONS].

Nonclinical Toxicology

Carcinogenesis, Mutagenesis, Impairment Of Fertility


Long-term carcinogenicity studies in mice and rats were carried out with efavirenz. Mice were dosed with 0, 25, 75, 150, or 300 mg/kg/day for 2 years. Incidences of hepatocellular adenomas and carcinomas and pulmonary alveolar/bronchiolar adenomas were increased above background in females. No increases in tumor incidence above background were seen in males. There was no NOAEL in females established for this study because tumor findings occurred at all doses. AUC at the NOAEL (150 mg/kg) in the males was approximately 0.9 times that in humans at the recommended clinical dose. In the rat study, no increases in tumor incidence were observed at doses up to 100 mg/kg/day, for which AUCs were 0.1 (males) or 0.2 (females) times those in humans at the recommended clinical dose.


Efavirenz tested negative in a battery of in vitro and in vivo genotoxicity assays. These included bacterial mutation assays in S. typhimurium and E. coli, mammalian mutation assays in Chinese hamster ovary cells, chromosome aberration assays in human peripheral blood lymphocytes or Chinese hamster ovary cells, and an in vivo mouse bone marrow micronucleus assay.

Impairment of Fertility

Efavirenz did not impair mating or fertility of male or female rats, and did not affect sperm of treated male rats. The reproductive performance of offspring born to female rats given efavirenz was not affected. The AUCs at the NOAEL values in male (200 mg/kg) and female (100 mg/kg) rats were approximately ≤ 0.15 times that in humans at the recommended clinical dose.

Use In Specific Populations


Pregnancy Category D


Antiretroviral Pregnancy Registry: To monitor fetal outcomes of pregnant women exposed to SUSTIVA, an Antiretroviral Pregnancy Registry has been established. Physicians are encouraged to register patients by calling 1-800-2584263.

As of July 2010, the Antiretroviral Pregnancy Registry has received prospective reports of 792 pregnancies exposed to efavirenz-containing regimens, nearly all of which were first-trimester exposures (718 pregnancies). Birth defects occurred in 17 of 604 live births (first-trimester exposure) and 2 of 69 live births (second/third-trimester exposure). One of these prospectively reported defects with first-trimester exposure was a neural tube defect. A single case of anophthalmia with first-trimester exposure to efavirenz has also been prospectively reported; however, this case included severe oblique facial clefts and amniotic banding, a known association with anophthalmia. There have been six retrospective reports of findings consistent with neural tube defects, including meningomyelocele. All mothers were exposed to efavirenz-containing regimens in the first trimester. Although a causal relationship of these events to the use of SUSTIVA has not been established, similar defects have been observed in preclinical studies of efavirenz.

Animal Data

Effects of efavirenz on embryo-fetal development have been studied in three nonclinical species (cynomolgus monkeys, rats, and rabbits). In monkeys, efavirenz 60 mg/kg/day was administered to pregnant females throughout pregnancy (gestation days 20 through 150). The maternal systemic drug exposures (AUC) were 1.3 times the exposure in humans at the recommended clinical dose (600 mg/day), with fetal umbilical venous drug concentrations approximately 0.7 times the maternal values. Three fetuses of 20 fetuses/infants had one or more malformations; there were no malformed fetuses or infants from placebo-treated mothers. The malformations that occurred in these three monkey fetuses included anencephaly and unilateral anophthalmia in one fetus, microphthalmia in a second, and cleft palate in the third. There was no NOAEL (no observable adverse effect level) established for this study because only one dosage was evaluated. In rats, efavirenz was administered either during organogenesis (gestation days 7 to 18) or from gestation day 7 through lactation day 21 at 50, 100, or 200 mg/kg/day. Administration of 200 mg/kg/day in rats was associated with increase in the incidence of early resorptions; and doses 100 mg/kg/day and greater were associated with early neonatal mortality. The AUC at the NOAEL (50 mg/kg/day) in this rat study was 0.1 times that in humans at the recommended clinical dose. Drug concentrations in the milk on lactation day 10 were approximately 8 times higher than those in maternal plasma. In pregnant rabbits, efavirenz was neither embryo lethal nor teratogenic when administered at doses of 25, 50, and 75 mg/kg/day over the period of organogenesis (gestation days 6 through 18). The AUC at the NOAEL (75 mg/kg/day) in rabbits was 0.4 times that in humans at the recommended clinical dose.

Nursing Mothers

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend that HIV-infected mothers not breastfeed their infants to avoid risking postnatal transmission of HIV. Efavirenz has been shown to pass into human breast milk. Because of the potential for HIV transmission and the potential for serious adverse effects in nursing infants, mothers should be instructed not to breastfeed if they are receiving SUSTIVA.

Pediatric Use

The safety, pharmacokinetic profile, and virologic and immunologic responses of SUSTIVA were evaluated in antiretroviral-naive and -experienced HIV-1 infected pediatric patients 3 months to 21 years of age in three open-label clinical trials [see ADVERSE REACTIONS, CLINICAL PHARMACOLOGY, and Clinical Studies]. The type and frequency of adverse reactions in these trials were generally similar to those of adult patients with the exception of a higher frequency of rash, including a higher frequency of Grade 3 or 4 rash, in pediatric patients compared to adults [see WARNINGS AND PRECAUTIONS and ADVERSE REACTIONS].

Use of SUSTIVA in patients younger than 3 months of age OR less than 3.5 kg body weight is not recommended because the safety, pharmacokinetics, and antiviral activity of SUSTIVA have not been evaluated in this age group and there is a risk of developing HIV resistance if SUSTIVA is underdosed. See DOSAGE AND ADMINISTRATION for dosing recommendations for pediatric patients.

Geriatric Use

Clinical studies of SUSTIVA did not include sufficient numbers of subjects aged 65 years and over to determine whether they respond differently from younger subjects. In general, dose selection for an elderly patient should be cautious, reflecting the greater frequency of decreased hepatic, renal, or cardiac function and of concomitant disease or other therapy.

Hepatic Impairment

SUSTIVA is not recommended for patients with moderate or severe hepatic impairment because there are insufficient data to determine whether dose adjustment is necessary. Patients with mild hepatic impairment may be treated with efavirenz without any adjustment in dose. Because of the extensive cytochrome P450-mediated metabolism of efavirenz and limited clinical experience in patients with hepatic impairment, caution should be exercised in administering SUSTIVA to these patients [see WARNINGS AND PRECAUTIONS and CLINICAL PHARMACOLOGY].

This monograph has been modified to include the generic and brand name in many instances.

Last reviewed on RxList: 6/5/2014


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