Truvada is a prescription drug that doctors typically prescribe for those at risk of contracting the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). The drug is also used to treat those who already have HIV. While the drug is not a cure for HIV, it can slow its progression and potentially prolong life expectancy in people who have it.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states that Truvada, although unable to prevent all HIV infections, plays a role in prophylaxis of the disease as a so-called PrEP, which stands for “pre-exposure prophylaxis.” The two active ingredients in Truvada, tenofovir and emtricitabine, can block the virus’s pathways, making it harder for an infection to become established. Doctors tend to prescribe Truvada and similar medications to individuals who have a sex partner with an HIV infection and those otherwise at risk of contracting the virus.
The Controversy Surrounding Truvada
While Truvada has potentially helped many individuals stay safe from an HIV infection, the drug also is under scrutiny. Truvada can potentially cause deadly side effects in a few long-term users of the drug. Serious side effects can include liver damage, kidney damage, bone loss, and other conditions.
Ongoing lawsuits against the manufacturer, Gilead Sciences, Inc., allege that the company knew of the drug’s potentially serious side effects but downplayed them. The manufacturer also stands accused of holding a safer drug back from the market to maximize profits from Truvada.
If Truvada or another medication with similar ingredients has adversely affected you or a loved one, consider hiring a Truvada lawsuit lawyer for help and advice.
If you or a loved one suffered significant harm from Truvada, you can contact Ben Crump Law, PLLC immediately for help. While we understand how intimidating it can feel to consider suing a large pharmaceutical corporation, you deserve justice.
If you suffered damages such as additional medical costs, loss of income, and others, due to the negligence of Gilead Sciences, Inc., we could fight for the compensation that you may be entitled to. Call us now for a free review of your case with one of our team members at (800) 961-4664.
What Truvada Is Used For
Truvada is used for two main purposes:
- HIV Treatment
- As an antiviral drug, Truvada can help lower the body’s viral count, and therefore, slow or halt the progression of HIV.
Prevention of HIV Infections
Studies show Truvada has been up to 90% effective in preventing individuals from contracting HIV through sexual activity, according to Stanford Health Care. Truvada can be used for preventing HIV infections in high-risk individuals, such as those with an HIV-positive sexual partner and others. When Truvada is used in this way, it is also sometimes called a “pre-exposure prophylaxis” treatment (PrEP).
Truvada May Not Prevent All HIV Infections
Those who are willing to endure various side effects while taking Truvada may have a false sense of security and perhaps engage in unprotected sex, believing they are completely safe from contracting HIV. While Truvada seems to be highly effective at preventing HIV infections, it does not prevent all infections.
In other words, if those taking Truvada engage in unprotected sex, thinking they are safe, they may be at risk of contracting HIV and other sexually transmitted infections (STIs). A study shared by PubMed suggests that those taking antiviral drugs as an HIV prophylaxis might be more likely to engage in riskier sex practices, making them more susceptible to STIs.
When Truvada Is Dangerous
Truvada can be dangerous for some consumers, especially those who take the drug long-term.
According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), prescription and over-the-counter medications come with some side effects. However, drugs in this country must generally be safe for consumers. This means that any risks from side effects should outweigh the benefits.
Regrettably, not all drugs that come onto the market are safe. While the benefits from Truvada can be considerable for those who take the drug to prevent an HIV infection, some could suffer from catastrophic and potentially life-threatening side effects.
If you suffered significant health deterioration from taking Truvada, consider consulting with a Truvada lawsuit lawyer for legal advice.
The Health Risks of Truvada
Antiretroviral drugs used to treat and prevent HIV, such as Truvada, can come with significant health risks and potentially life-threatening side effects. The health risks of Truvada range from mild side effects to more serious consequences.
Truvada, while it cannot cure HIV, works by reducing the virus count in the body. This helps the immune system to function and fight off diseases. Truvada can also prevent an HIV infection in at-risk groups like those who have an HIV-positive sex partner. While many patients might be taking the drug without major health effects, side effects from Truvada can be severe, especially in those taking the drug for long periods.
Common Mild Side Effects of Truvada
According to the manufacturer, Gilead Sciences, Inc., Truvada clinical trials revealed common side effects, including headaches in 7% of users, abdominal pain in 4%, and weight loss in 3% of clinical trial participants.
According to Stanford Health Care, those using Truvada can also experience nausea, vomiting, and rash. Some individuals may develop joint pain, fatigue, and trouble sleeping. For many individuals looking for a prophylactic medication that provides protection from an HIV infection, minor side effects are acceptable.
While the benefits for those experiencing only mild side effects can be high, Truvada can potentially cause severe health issues in some patients.
Serious Side Effects of Truvada
For a few individuals, the health risks of Truvada may turn out to be considerable. Some of the more serious health effects, particularly in those who take Truvada over long periods, can include:
Worsening of Hepatitis B Infection
If a patient with Hepatitis B infection stops taking the drug, their infection could worsen drastically and immediately. Therefore, those with a Hepatitis B infection should consult their doctor before stopping Truvada.
Kidney failure and other kidney problems can be a serious side effect of Truvada. Acute kidney failure means the kidneys are no longer able to filter waste products from the human body, specifically from the bloodstream. Kidney failure can be fatal, with symptoms including:
- Fluid retention
- Decreased volume of urine
- Trouble breathing
- Excessive tiredness
- Irregular heartbeat
According to the FDA, there is a link between Truvada and liver disease. The liver could potentially become enlarged and tender in those taking the medication. Individuals could also develop a condition called “fatty liver.” In some cases, taking Truvada can lead to complete liver failure. Signs and symptoms of liver failure include jaundice, fluid retention, and poor health in general.
Lactic acidosis is a serious and potentially fatal risk of Truvada. The condition occurs when acid builds up in the blood. Liver or kidney failure can cause lactic acidosis. The condition is a medical emergency and requires immediate treatment.
Bone Loss and Osteoporosis
Bone thinning, loss of bone density, and osteoporosis can be more serious side effects of Truvada. One of Truvada’s active ingredients, tenofovir disoproxil fumarate (TDF), has been linked to osteoporosis and bone loss. Truvada might put children and adolescents at a higher risk of decreased bone density, as they are still experiencing active bone growth.
Other Potential Health Problems with Truvada
Other than some of the side effects listed here, those taking Truvada may face other health risks, especially if they have pre-existing conditions and take other medication. Drug interactions can occur with over-the-counter medications, prescription drugs, and herbal supplements.
Some patients can develop so-called Immune Reconstitution Syndrome (IRIS), which describes various disorders that occur when a patient’s infections get significantly worse after starting an antiretroviral medication.
If you developed any undesirable or serious health effects while taking Truvada, you should speak to your doctor to find out if you could switch to another antiretroviral medication. Similar medications on the market today do not include the highly controversial ingredient TDF.
Duration of Truvada Side Effects
According to Stanford Health Care, most of those using the drug may experience no side effects or only minor problems. Mild side effects may last for a couple of weeks and then disappear. However, Truvada can also cause some potentially serious health conditions, which may or may not be reversible with treatment.
Osteoporosis and Bone Thinning
While osteoporosis is generally treatable with medication and lifestyle changes, symptoms tend to only appear once the disease is in an advanced stage. Some damage to an individual’s bone health may not be reversible.
Truvada can potentially cause severe kidney disease and kidney failure in some individuals. The Mayo Clinic notes that while acute kidney failure can potentially be reversed with treatments, there is to date no treatment that can cure chronic kidney disease. Treatment of end-stage kidney disease consists of lifelong dialysis or an organ transplant.
Truvada has also been linked to liver disease. The drug can put patients at risk for developing a fatty liver as well as liver failure. The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) notes that in the early stages, liver disease is treatable and potentially reversible. However, end-stage liver disease tends to be incurable and typically requires a transplant. Symptoms of liver failure can be jaundice and fluid retention.
Lactic acidosis is a serious and potentially fatal condition that requires prompt medical treatment. According to StatPearls, with lactic acidosis, the liver or kidneys have become unable to filter acid from the body. Any buildup of acid in the blood can be dangerous and lead to death.
Some of the more serious side effects can be devastating for an individual, reducing their life quality and independence and proving extremely costly. However, those hurt by a dangerous drug could have legal recourse and may be able to recover compensation. A Truvada lawsuit lawyer can give advice about any legal options that could be available for those who suffered a significant injury.
The Link Between Truvada and Liver Damage
According to the FDA, there is a link between liver damage and Truvada use. While some of those taking the medication may only experience mild liver damage, others could have severe problems, including liver failure.
Truvada’s Potential Effects on the Liver
Gilead Sciences, Inc., which makes Truvada, now includes a warning on the drug’s label, mentioning serious liver damage that could lead to death in rare cases. The drugmaker also suggests that you inform a health care provider immediately if you are experiencing the following symptoms:
- Jaundice (yellowing of the skin and whites of one’s eyes)
- Urine that is dark or “tea-colored”
- Light-colored stools
- Appetite loss for an extended period
- Pain in the stomach area
Truvada can potentially cause a fatty liver. While fatty liver is largely a silent disease that may not cause any major symptoms, individuals could experience fatigue, weight loss, and abdominal pain as the condition progresses. In some patients, a fatty liver eventually causes liver failure.
Liver failure can be a reaction to high doses of various medications, including Truvada. Acute liver failure can appear suddenly, while chronic liver failure is a gradually progressing disease. Those suffering from liver failure may experience jaundice, stomach pain, and swelling. In severe liver failure, a patient may require a transplant of the organ.
Rare but severe adverse liver damage can occur with long-term use of Truvada, especially if patients use other antiretroviral medication in combination with tenofovir, Truvada’s active ingredient. Liver damage might be more common with tenofovir than with other antiretroviral medications.
Truvada’s Effect on Bone Density and Potential for Osteoporosis
Truvada may affect bone density and cause osteoporosis in some people.
Our bones are constantly renewing themselves. Bone breaks down and is replaced in the body continually throughout our lives. However, in people with osteoporosis, new bone creation cannot keep up with the pace at which old bone breaks down. This results in brittle bones and a loss of bone density.
Most people who suffer from osteoporosis or bone loss have no symptoms whatsoever until the disease has progressed considerably. Once osteoporosis is advanced, individuals may experience bone fractures. According to the Mayo Clinic, something as simple as bending over or a cough can result in fractures for someone diagnosed with osteoporosis.
Osteoporosis symptoms can include:
- Back or neck pain
- Loss of height
- Stooped posture
Osteoporosis is typically a sign of advancing age and, in particular, affects post-menopausal women. However, in those who have been taking the HIV medication Truvada, even young people can potentially experience osteoporosis.
Evidence for Truvada Causing Osteoporosis and Bone Loss
While certain lifestyle factors can contribute to osteoporosis, in some cases, medication is responsible for causing the disease. Truvada and other HIV medications containing tenofovir disoproxil fumarate (TDF) can trigger osteoporosis or bone loss in some individuals. Therapeutics and Clinical Risk Management published a research paper revealing a strong correlation between taking tenofovir for HIV and experiencing a loss of bone density. The research paper suggests that tenofovir can cause bone loss in individuals who are still actively developing and growing bones, such as children.
Another study by the journal points out that HIV patients suffer from much higher degrees of bone loss and fractures than the general population. In fact, low bone mineral density occurs in up to 90% of HIV-infected individuals. The paper postulates that while there can be many reasons for bone loss in HIV patients, there is evidence that antiviral drugs containing tenofovir are contributing to the loss of bone density.
How to Know Whether You Have Osteoporosis
Unfortunately, osteoporosis and other problems with bone density only present with symptoms once the disease has progressed significantly. By the time an individual experiences fractures and other unsettling symptoms, bone loss has already advanced considerably.
If you want to find out whether Truvada affected your bone density and caused osteoporosis, you will most likely have to undergo some diagnostic tests. Your doctor may order a bone scan to assess bone density. Other diagnostic tests can include:
- Bone X-rays
- CT scans of the spine
- MRI of the spine
If your doctor diagnoses osteoporosis or bone loss, you could have several treatment options, including medication, diet adjustment, and weight-bearing exercises.
Fractures from osteoporosis can cause pain, inconvenience, and financial losses. Depending on the fractures and extent of the injury, an individual may require surgeries and other treatments. They could lose income due to prolonged absence from work, as well.
Other Potential Side Effects Involving Bone Density
Osteoporosis is not the only detrimental bone condition that users of Truvada might face. They could experience other conditions involving the bones, such as osteopenia, a mild decrease in bone density. Osteomalacia, a softening of the bones, can also occur in individuals taking the drug. Bone softening can be a result of Truvada-induced kidney disease.
If you experienced reduced bone density or osteoporosis due to taking the drug Truvada, you could potentially have legal recourse. Consider hiring a Truvada lawsuit lawyer who may be able to help you seek compensation for any medical expenses and other losses you suffered due to side effects from Truvada.
The Relationship between Truvada and Kidney Damage?
Several studies, including a research article in the Journal of the American Society of Nephrology (JASN), have found that Truvada causes kidney damage in some patients.
According to the JASN, kidney toxicity of TDF has been well documented in several studies since 2001, the year Truvada came on the market. Some of the serious side effects of Truvada involving the kidneys can include:
Acute Kidney Failure
When the kidneys stop filtering waste products out of blood, acute kidney failure occurs. While acute kidney failure can develop suddenly and typically requires fast medical intervention, it is, in many cases, reversible with treatment. However, the condition can prove fatal if a patient does not receive immediate medical care.
Chronic Kidney Disease
Chronic kidney disease is a silently progressing condition. Symptoms develop slowly, and since they are non-specific, an individual may not realize that they have chronic kidney disease unless the condition presents with more serious symptoms. Usually, only a laboratory test can confirm chronic kidney disease.
If kidney disease is left untreated, it can develop into kidney failure. Chronic kidney failure cannot be cured, and a patient with end-stage kidney disease will require an organ transplant or frequent dialysis to stay alive.
Those who take Truvada can potentially develop Fanconi syndrome, a condition affecting the kidney’s tubes. In an individual suffering from Fanconi syndrome, certain substances that are usually absorbed into the blood are released into the urine instead.
Symptoms of Fanconi syndrome can include:
- Increased amounts of urine
- Bone pain and weakness
- Excessive thirst
- Muscle weakness
Fanconi syndrome can have a detrimental effect on the kidneys and the bone density of those suffering from the condition.
Seek Medical Advice
If you took Truvada for many years, you should consult with a doctor, especially if you have one or more of the following symptoms of kidney disease:
- Unexplained fluid retention
- Increased or decreased volume of urine
- Trouble breathing
- Extreme tiredness
- Irregular heartbeat
Your doctor can order diagnostic tests that can confirm or rule out kidney disease. If you are still taking Truvada, your doctor may wish to perform periodic testing to ensure you do not develop any organ damage from the medication.
Truvada’s Potential to Cause Lactic Acidosis
Truvada may cause lactic acidosis in some individuals. According to a study published by the Iranian Red Crescent Medical Journal, lactic acidosis can cause fatal complications in those taking tenofovir disoproxil fumarate (TDF), a main ingredient in the drug Truvada.
Lactic acidosis occurs when there is a buildup of acid in an individual’s blood. Even minor changes in the pH level of blood can have detrimental effects on our organs and overall health. Human blood is naturally slightly alkaline. When the liver fails to clear the body of lactic acid, our blood becomes more acidic, leading to lactic acidosis. Lactic acidosis is a potentially fatal condition.
Symptoms of Lactic Acidosis
According to the Mayo Clinic, lactic acidosis can appear quickly and severely, with symptoms including:
- Abdominal discomfort
- Decreased appetite
- Difficulty breathing
- General discomfort
- Muscle pain and cramping
- Unusual fatigue or weakness
Since lactic acidosis can appear suddenly and can be life-threatening, it requires emergency medical treatment.
Truvada, Liver Damage, and Lactic Acidosis
Lactic acidosis can arise when the liver is not functioning properly. Truvada can potentially damage the liver in various ways. In some individuals, Truvada causes “fatty liver,” which, although not serious, can eventually lead to liver failure. Truvada can also cause complete liver failure. Liver failure is a serious medical condition and can result in:
- Fluid in the brain
- Bleeding disorders
- Blood and urinary tract infections
- Kidney failure
Liver failure symptoms can include jaundice, dark urine, stomach pain, excess fluids in the body, weight loss, and others. If you are currently taking Truvada and experience any of these symptoms, you should seek medical attention.
Truvada, Kidney Problems, and Lactic Acidosis
Kidney failure can also contribute to developing lactic acidosis. When the kidneys fail entirely, patients typically have to undergo a kidney transplant or are dependent on regular dialysis. However, kidney failure is not always permanent and can be reversed with treatment in some cases.
Truvada can put patients at risk of kidney failure if large amounts of TDF accumulate in the body. Complications from Truvada can include:
- Chronic kidney disease
- Acute kidney failure
- Fanconi syndrome, a condition affecting the filtering tubes
Symptoms and signs of kidney damage can be fairly non-specific, especially in the beginning stages. Signs of kidney trouble include fatigue, sleeping problems, nausea, shortness of breath, decreased appetite, and weight loss.
How Long Truvada Stays in Your System After You Stop Taking It
Truvada stays in your system for about a week after you stop taking it. The main ingredient in Truvada, the HIV prophylaxis drug, typically has a half-life of more than six days, according to a study published in the Journal of Antimicrobial Chemotherapy.
Knowing how long the drug stays in the human body at high concentrations can be important for two reasons:
- Even when patients miss a dose of Truvada, they could still have protection from contracting the HIV virus, as the active ingredient in the drug, TDF, persists in the body for several days at high concentrations.
- Those who suffer from serious and debilitating side effects from Truvada may wish to know when their body is completely clear of the medication.
While Truvada does not persist in high doses in the human body for much more than a week, it could take a considerable amount of time before all traces of the drug have disappeared. Some drugs can accumulate in tissues and cells in the body and persist for many weeks or months in small concentrations.
If you are suffering from any adverse reactions to Truvada, you should consult your medical provider. Your doctor can order diagnostic tests to find out if your medical conditions are related to Truvada. Testing blood, hair, and urine can also help determine whether Truvada is staying in your system after you stopped taking it.
Ben Crump, PLLC Can Fight for Your Rights if You Suffered Harm by Truvada
We typically put our trust in medications to make us feel better, or in the case of Truvada, to help us avoid contracting an HIV infection. The trouble is, when a manufacturer withholds important information from patients, they put the patient in danger of suffering from potentially fatal side effects. This is wrong and illegal.
We understand that victims of pharmaceutical negligence may be afraid to step forward and stand up against a powerful corporation. However, you are not alone. We can be with you every step of the way.
Ben Crump, PLLC is not afraid to tackle tough cases and stand up to large pharmaceutical companies to help victims get compensation. For your free, confidential case evaluation, call us today at (800) 961-4664.