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Hepsera

Last reviewed on RxList: 3/7/2017
Hepsera Patient Information Including Side Effects

Brand Names: Hepsera

Generic Name: adefovir (Pronunciation: a DEF o veer)

What is adefovir (Hepsera)?

Adefovir is an antiviral medication. It works by preventing viral cells from multiplying in the body and infecting new liver cells.

Adefovir is used to treat chronic hepatitis B in adults. This medicine will not cure hepatitis.

Adefovir may also be used for purposes not listed in this medication guide.

What are the possible side effects of adefovir (Hepsera)?

Get emergency medical help if you have any of these signs of an allergic reaction: hives; difficulty breathing; swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat.

This medication may cause lactic acidosis (a build-up of lactic acid in the body, which can be fatal). Lactic acidosis can start slowly and get worse over time. Get emergency medical help if you have even mild symptoms of lactic acidosis, such as:

  • muscle pain or weakness;
  • numb or cold feeling in your arms and legs;
  • trouble breathing;
  • feeling dizzy, light-headed, tired, or very weak;
  • stomach pain, nausea with vomiting; or
  • fast or uneven heart rate.

Call your doctor at once if you have any other serious side effect such as:

  • urinating less than usual or not at all; or
  • nausea, pain in your upper stomach, itching, loss of appetite, dark urine, clay-colored stools, jaundice (yellowing of the skin or eyes).

Less serious side effects may include:

  • mild nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, gas, or stomach pain;
  • mild skin rash or itching;
  • weakness; or
  • headache.

This is not a complete list of side effects and others may occur. Tell your doctor about any unusual or bothersome side effect. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.

What is the most important information I should know about adefovir (Hepsera)?

Some people develop lactic acidosis while taking adefovir. Early symptoms may get worse over time and this condition can be fatal. Get emergency medical help if you have even mild symptoms such as: muscle pain or weakness, numb or cold feeling in your arms and legs, trouble breathing, stomach pain, nausea with vomiting, fast or uneven heart rate, dizziness, or feeling very weak or tired.

Adefovir can also cause serious kidney problems, especially if you have kidney disease or take certain medications.

You may develop liver symptoms after you stop taking this medication, even months after stopping. Your doctor may want to check your liver function for several months after you stop using adefovir. Visit your doctor regularly.

Taking this medication will not prevent you from passing hepatitis B to other people. Avoid having unprotected sex or sharing razors or toothbrushes. Talk with your doctor about safe ways to prevent hepatitis transmission during sex. Sharing drug or medicine needles is never safe, even for a healthy person.

Tell your doctor if you have been exposed to HIV, or if you have untreated HIV or AIDS. Taking medicines to treat chronic hepatitis B can cause HIV infection to become resistant to the standard HIV and AIDS medications. You may need to be tested for HIV before you start taking adefovir.

Hepsera Patient Information including How Should I Take

What should I discuss with my healthcare provider before taking adefovir (Hepsera)?

You should not take adefovir if you are allergic to it.

Some people develop a life-threatening condition called lactic acidosis while taking adefovir. You may be more likely to develop lactic acidosis if you are overweight or have liver disease, if you are a woman, or if you have taken HIV or AIDS medications for a long time. Talk with your doctor about your individual risk.

The following drugs should not be used while you are taking adefovir:

  • tenofovir (Viread);
  • emtricitabine and tenofovir (Truvada);
  • efavirenz, emtricitabine, and tenofovir (Atripla); or
  • emtricitabine, rilpivirine, and tenofovir (Complera).

Tell your doctor if you have been exposed to HIV, or if you have untreated HIV or AIDS. Taking medicines to treat chronic hepatitis B can cause HIV infection to become resistant to the standard HIV and AIDS medications. You may need to be tested for HIV before you start taking adefovir.

To make sure you can safely take adefovir, tell your doctor if you have kidney or liver disease.

FDA pregnancy category C. It is not known whether adefovir will harm an unborn baby. Tell your doctor if you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant while using this medication.

Your name may need to be listed on an antiviral pregnancy registry when you start using this medication.

It is not known whether adefovir passes into breast milk or if it could harm a nursing baby. Do not use this medication without telling your doctor if you are breast-feeding a baby.

How should I take adefovir (Hepsera)?

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.

Take adefovir with a full glass of water.

Adefovir may be taken with or without food.

Use adefovir regularly to get the most benefit. Get your prescription refilled before you run out of medicine completely.

To be sure this medication is not causing harmful effects, your blood may need to be tested often. Your kidney or liver function may also need to be tested. Visit your doctor regularly.

You may develop liver symptoms after you stop taking this medication, even months after stopping. Your doctor may want to check your liver function for several months after you stop using adefovir.

You must remain under the care of a doctor while you are using adefovir. Visit your doctor regularly.

Store at room temperature away from moisture and heat.

Hepsera Patient Information including If I Miss a Dose

What happens if I miss a dose (Hepsera)?

Take the missed dose as soon as you remember. Skip the missed dose if it is almost time for your next scheduled dose. Do not take extra medicine to make up the missed dose.

What happens if I overdose (Hepsera)?

Seek emergency medical attention or call the Poison Help line at 1-800-222-1222.

Overdose symptoms may include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and other stomach problems.

What should I avoid while taking adefovir (Hepsera)?

Taking this medication will not prevent you from passing hepatitis B to other people. Avoid having unprotected sex or sharing razors or toothbrushes. Talk with your doctor about safe ways to prevent hepatitis transmission during sex. Sharing drug or medicine needles is never safe, even for a healthy person.

What other drugs will affect adefovir (Hepsera)?

Many drugs can interact with adefovir. Below is just a partial list. Tell your doctor if you are using:

  • amphotericin B (Fungizone, AmBisome, Amphotec, Abelcet);
  • pentamidine (NebuPent, Pentam);
  • antibiotics such as capreomycin (Capastat), rifampin (Rifadin, Rimactane, Rifater), vancomycin (Vancocin, Vancoled);
  • antiviral medicines such as acyclovir (Zovirax), cidofovir (Vistide), or foscarnet (Foscavir);
  • cancer medicine such as aldesleukin (Proleukin), carmustine (BiCNU, Gliadel), cisplatin (Platinol), ifosfamide (Ifex), oxaliplatin (Eloxatin), streptozocin (Zanosar), or tretinoin (Vesanoid);
  • medicines used to prevent organ transplant rejection, such as cyclosporine (Gengraf, Neoral, Sandimmune), sirolimus (Rapamune) or tacrolimus (Prograf);
  • pain or arthritis medicines such as aspirin (Anacin, Excedrin), acetaminophen (Tylenol), diclofenac (Cataflam, Voltaren), etodolac (Lodine), ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin), indomethacin (Indocin), naproxen (Aleve, Naprosyn), and others; or
  • HIV medicines such as abacavir (Ziagen), didanosine (Videx), efavirenz (Sustiva), emtricitabine (Emtriva), lamivudine (Epivir), stavudine (Zerit), zalcitabine (Hivid), zidovudine (Retrovir), or combinations such as Combivir (lamivudine and zidovudine), Epzicom (abacavir and lamivudine), or Trizivir (abacavir, lamivudine, and zidovudine).

This list is not complete and other drugs may interact with adefovir. Tell your doctor about all medications you use. This includes prescription, over-the-counter, vitamin, and herbal products. Do not start a new medication without telling your doctor.

Where can I get more information?

Your pharmacist can provide more information about adefovir.


Remember, keep this and all other medicines out of the reach of children, never share your medicines with others, and use this medication only for the indication prescribed.

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