AIDS was a deadly disease in the later part of the 20th century and is still fatal if not treated. However, medications have been developed to provide a higher quality of life with those who have been diagnosed with HIV as well as those who have not yet contracted the disease. It’s also big business for pharmaceutical companies.
Truvada is one of the best-known prescription medications that a person may have been given to prevent HIV and AIDs. It is also known as a TDF drug because of the main ingredient. However, some people who have taken the drug are concerned about the risks of this medication. In fact, some have filed lawsuits because they didn’t receive adequate warning about the danger so they could make an informed decision. It’s important to understand the details about this medication and to know your options if you have suffered because of taking the prescription.
What Does Truvada Do?
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Truvada is also known as Truvada for PrEP. This is short for pre-exposure prophylaxis. It provides protection before you are exposed to HIV-1 through sex. However, you take this medication on a daily basis and not just when you plan on having intercourse.
A person must be HIV-negative before they take the prescription, and they must continue to use safe sex practices for extra precautions. It’s also recommended that the person be tested every three months to ensure they are still negative.
Missing doses increases the risk of getting the infection. You may also have contracted HIV recently before starting the medication and it didn’t show up on tests.
The medication may also be given to people who are HIV-positive. In this way, it’s used as Truvada for HIV rather than Truvada for PrEP. It is used along with other medications as part of a treatment plan. It won’t cure HIV or AIDS, but it does help stop the progress of the disease and also reduces the risk of transmission.
The way this medication works is by blocking the HIV enzyme, which is known as reverse transcriptase. It prevents it from multiplying. Taking it can reduce the amount of HIV is in a person’s body. For it to work, the medication must be taken as directed with no missed doses or reduced dosages.
The medication comes in various strengths, including the following:
- 200 mg emtricitabine and 300 mg tenofovir disoproxil fumarate
- 167 mg emtricitabine and 250 mg tenofovir disoproxil fumarate
- 133 mg emtricitabine and 200 mg tenofovir disoproxil fumarate
- 100 mg emtricitabine and 150 mg tenofovir disoproxil fumarate
Emtricitabine has the brand name Emtriva and tenofovir disoproxil fumarate has the brand name Viread.
Is Truvada Safe to Take?
Many people have taken this medication with no problems. However, it comes with a risk, especially if you have certain health conditions. If you are upfront with your health provider, they should know when it’s not safe to prescribe the medication. Instances when it may not be safe to take this prescription include the following:
- If you are allergic to tenofovir disoproxil or emtricitabine, the two medications in the drug
- If you have liver problems, including hepatitis B, or had them in the past
- If you have or have had kidney problems, including dialysis
- If you have bone problems now or in the past
- If you have other medical conditions
- If you are pregnant
- If you are breastfeeding now or plan to
- If you are taking any form of birth control
Any of these situations could impact the effectiveness or your body’s receptivity to TDF drugs.
What are the Side Effects of Truvada?
As with any medication, there are side effects with this medication. The most common are those seen with other HIV medications, such as nausea and dizziness. In many instances, the side effects are manageable. However, there are some side effects which can be serious and should be treated right away.
Truvada can cause life-threatening side effects. Liver problems and a buildup of lactic acid are concerns with this medication. Lactic acidosis is a serious medical condition, which can lead to liver damage, kidney failure or respiratory failure. It can be fatal if not treated.
Signs of lactic acidosis include the following:
- Shortness of breath
- Fast breathing
- Feeling weak
- Unusual pain in the muscles
- Nausea and vomiting
- Dizziness and lightheadedness
- Fast heartbeat or abnormal heartbeat
- Cold hands and feet
- Hands and feet that turn blue
Indications that you may have liver problems include the following:
- Pain in the abdominal area
- Dark urine
- Loss of appetite
If a person is taking TDF drugs with hepatitis B and they stop the medication, it could cause their condition to worsen.
Other side effects exist with this medication, including bone problems, such as pain in the bones or softening of the bones. This medication may impact bone density. In fact, studies have been done which show declines of bone density in men while taking this medication who would normally have strong bones. Bone density loss has been evident in patients after they first start taking the drug for treatment.
Your immune system may also change and develop a condition called immune reconstitution inflammatory syndrome or IRIS, which has a higher response to infections that may have been hidden. TDF drugs may also cause kidney problems or worsen existing kidney problems.
Does Truvada Cause Kidney Damage?
Clinical trials that involved Truvada didn’t show any significant negative impact on the kidneys, but more recent studies have indicated the possible link between the medication and chronic kidney issues or renal failure. These studies show that people who take this medication should be monitored for changes in kidney function.
The job of the kidneys is to filter the blood. They take out anything useful and put it back into the body. Waste products, including drugs such as tenofovir in TDF drugs, are removed from the body through the kidneys. Some of these products can build up in the kidneys and cause damage, including renal failure.
In the one study, testing showed that patients had a decline of 2.5 percent in 18 months for the ability of the kidneys to filter the blood. Higher doses saw a loss of 5.6 percent. Older patients saw the more significant decrease as well as those who had lower numbers to begin with.
The Center for Disease Control (CDC) recommends that creatinine clearance (which is the kidney’s ability to filter blood) be monitored every six months. Anyone with other risk factors for kidney disease, those with chronic kidney disease or lower functioning kidneys should be monitored more often.
Can You Sue a Drug Company for Side Effects?
When you suffer severe side effects from a medication, especially those that cause permanent damage, you may wonder if someone should be held responsible. Patients are often left with expensive treatment options and costly medical care as a result.
All medications have the potential for side effects. Much of the time, these side effects are unpleasant, such as nausea. Sometimes they are even dangerous, as in the case of medications which should not be taken while operating machinery. However, not all side effects warrant a lawsuit. If a health care provider tells you about the side effects of a medication and you decide to take it anyway, you as the patient are the person responsible for that decision.
On the other hand, there are instances when you may be prescribed a medication and not be aware of the side effects. In those situations, you may be able to file a lawsuit to receive compensation for your medical costs and other damages.
Generally, there are three ways you can take legal action against a drug manufacturer with a lawsuit. First, defects in manufacturing the medications may happen if unsafe ingredients are used. In this situation, it may be the maker of the ingredients rather than the business that put them together in the medication that would be the subject of the lawsuit.
If the manufacturer knew about dangerous side effects and failed to warn or failed to conduct thorough testing to know about the side effects, they may be responsible for the results to patients. Failure to Warn is another way the manufacturer may be deemed to be responsible because they failed to provide enough information to the doctor about the medication so they could determine if the risks outweighed the benefits. These factors could result in lawsuits against the business that manufactured the drug.
It is up to the patient to show evidence that they were unaware of the dangers of the drug. It’s important to hire an experienced attorney who can conduct an investigation and review documentation to determine if you have a case and can sue for compensation against the company that manufacturers the drug.
As the most popular HIV treatment and prevention drug, Truvada has been prescribed to thousands of patients. It has also been the subject of numerous lawsuits, which you may see mistakenly referred to as Truvalda lawsuits. Gilead, the manufacturer of TDF drugs, is facing legal action around the country because of kidney and bone injuries.
The claim made against Gilead in these lawsuits is that the manufacturer knew about the risks and failed to warn patients or doctors. Adding another dimension to this case is the claim that Gilead had already been making other options for HIV treatment that were safer. The safer version of the drug didn’t go to market as soon as it could because Gilead wanted to maximize profits, according to allegations.
When a drug comes on the market, it has a certain timeline before any generic versions may be produced. During this time, the manufacturer can charge a higher price since it’s the only version of the drug available. Once that timeline is up and generics are allowed, the price of the drug usually drops. Allegations made in lawsuits state that Gilead was holding back these safer medications until that timeline had passed.
Two cases were filed in 2018 with a lawsuit against Gilead in the state of California, each with two plaintiffs. One was a personal injury lawsuit while the other was a class action lawsuit. In the personal injury lawsuit, the claims against Gilead include the following:
- Strict Products Liability – Design Defect and Failure to Warn
- Breach of Express Warranty
- Breach of Implied Warranty
- Negligent Products Liability – Design Defect and Failure to Warn
As more people come forward to file lawsuits, these early cases may help set a precedent for a verdict and for compensation. They can be encouraging for those who want to see justice against a company that has allegedly put their focus on profitability over patient care.
If you or someone you know took Truvada either to prevent HIV or as part of a treatment plan and suffered serious side effects of bone injury or kidney damage, you may be eligible to participate in a drug lawsuit. You can contact a law firm that specializes in pharmaceuticals and medical malpractice to represent your case. This medication, along with Atripla, Complera and other HIV drugs can often have side effects that you aren’t aware of. These manufacturers are in the business of making money and must be held accountable for not providing accurate information to medical providers and patients about the risks that come with taking the drugs.
You could receive compensation for past, present and future medical costs, lost wages and pain and suffering. It’s important to contact an experienced personal injury law firm with a record in product liability. They can review your claim and determine your next steps. The firm will provide a free consultation to listen to your particular situation. You are under no obligation to move forward with a lawsuit, but you can find out if you’re eligible for compensation.
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