Epclusa (sofosbuvir/velpatasvir) is a brand-name prescription medication. It’s approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to treat hepatitis C, which is an infection caused by the hepatitis C virus. Epclusa is approved for use in certain adults and children.
The hepatitis C virus is transmitted through blood or other bodily fluids. Left untreated long term, hepatitis C can cause serious health conditions such as liver cancer and cirrhosis (scarring on the liver).
Here are the basics on Epclusa:
- Active ingredients: sofosbuvir/velpatasvir
- Drug class: direct-acting antiviral
- Drug forms: oral tablet, oral pellets
- Available as generic: yes
Read on for more information on Epclusa and its use in treating hepatitis C. You can also refer to this article for a comprehensive look at Epclusa.
The use of Epclusa for treating hepatitis C (its only approved use) may cause side effects that are mild or serious. The lists below include some of the main side effects that may occur while using Epclusa. For information on other potential side effects of the drug, talk with your doctor or pharmacist. You can also see this comprehensive article on Epclusa or refer to Epclusa’s prescribing information.
Note: The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) tracks and reviews side effects of drugs it has approved. If you would like to notify the FDA about a side effect you’ve had with Epclusa, you can do so through MedWatch.
Mild side effects
Like other medications, Epclusa may cause mild side effects. These side effects may be temporary, lasting a few days or weeks. But if they last longer, or if they bother you or become severe, it’s important to talk with your doctor or pharmacist.
Common mild side effects of Epclusa when used alone* include:
- fatigue (lack of energy)
- insomnia (difficulty staying asleep or falling asleep)
- muscle weakness
* In some situations, Epclusa may be used in combination with ribavirin (Rebetol). For information on possible side effects from using the two drugs together, refer to this article.
Serious side effects
Serious side effects from taking Epclusa aren’t common, but they can occur. Call your doctor right away if you develop serious side effects while using Epclusa. If the side effects seem life threatening, or you think you’re having a medical emergency, call 911 or your local emergency number immediately.
Serious side effects Epclusa may cause can include:
Long-term side effects
To date, long-term side effects haven’t been reported in people using Epclusa to treat hepatitis C.
However, if you already have cirrhosis (scarring on the liver), it’s possible that you’ll have symptoms of liver damage, even after you finish treatment with Epclusa. The drug clears the hepatitis C virus from your body, but it can’t reverse liver damage that’s already present.
If you have cirrhosis, your doctor will closely monitor your liver function, both during and after your treatment with Epclusa.
Epclusa comes as a tablet and as pellets, both of which are swallowed. You can take your dose at any time of day, with or without food. The pellets can be swallowed by themselves, swallowed with water or another fluid, or sprinkled onto food and then swallowed. Try to take Epclusa at about the same time each day.
The oral pellet form of Epclusa may be prescribed if you have trouble swallowing tablets. And for children ages 3 to 6 years, doctors typically prescribe the pellets to be sprinkled onto food and then swallowed.
If you or your child takes Epclusa pellets on food, the food should be non-acidic. Pudding and ice cream are a few examples of foods that aren’t acidic. The pellets should be swallowed within 15 minutes after mixing with the food.
Be sure to take Epclusa according to your doctor’s instructions.
Epclusa is approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to treat hepatitis C, which is an infection caused by the hepatitis C virus. The drug is approved for use in adults as well as children who are at least 3 years old.
Epclusa comes as an oral tablet and as oral pellets. Each form of the drug contains two active medications: sofosbuvir and velpatasvir.
The tablets are available in two strengths:
- 400 milligrams (mg) of sofosbuvir/100 mg of velpatasvir
- 200 mg of sofosbuvir/50 mg of velpatasvir
The oral pellets are also available in two strengths:
- 200 mg sofosbuvir/50 mg velpatasvir
- 150 mg sofosbuvir/37.5 mg velpatasvir
For adults, the recommended dose of Epclusa, when used alone for treating hepatitis C, is one 400 mg/100 mg tablet taken once daily, for 12 weeks.
Dosage in children
For treating hepatitis C in children ages 3 years and older, Epclusa’s recommended dosages are based on body weight. See this article for details.
You may be wondering how long you have to take Epclusa to treat hepatitis C. You’ll likely take the drug once daily for 12 weeks. This is the amount of time it takes for Epclusa to clear the hepatitis C virus from your body.
It’s extremely important not to miss or skip doses of Epclusa. Missed or skipped doses can lower the level of the drug in your blood, which may cause Epclusa to work less well than usual. As a result, the drug may not clear the hepatitis C virus from your system.
To avoid missing a dose, try setting a reminder on your phone. If you do miss a dose of Epclusa, it’s important that you call your doctor right away. They’ll advise you on the best action for you to take.
Hepatitis C is an infection caused by the hepatitis C virus. The virus is transmitted through blood or body fluids, which can occur in several ways, including:
- sharing needles with a person who has the virus
- getting pricked by a needle that has the virus, which can be common in a healthcare setting
- having sex with someone who has the virus without using a condom or other barrier method
There are different strains of hepatitis C virus, called hepatitis C genotypes. Although they can all cause liver damage, hepatitis C genotypes respond differently to various medications. Currently, scientists have identified seven distinct hepatitis C genotypes. Epclusa is approved for treating hepatitis C genotypes 1 to 6.
Symptoms of hepatitis C
Liver inflammation from hepatitis C can cause symptoms such as:
Who can take Epclusa for hepatitis C?
Epclusa is approved to treat hepatitis C in adults as well as children who are at least 3 years old. The drug is used to treat all hepatitis C genotypes (1 to 6).
The way Epclusa works
Epclusa belongs to a medication class called direct-acting antivirals. (A medication class is a group of medications that work the same way.) Epclusa contains two active medications: sofosbuvir and velpatasvir.
Epclusa works to treat hepatitis C by preventing the virus from replicating (making copies of itself). When a virus is unable to replicate, it will eventually die and be cleared from your body.
It’s possible for Epclusa to cure hepatitis C infection. When blood tests can no longer detect the virus in your body, you’re considered cured. In clinical studies, whether or not people were cured depended on certain factors. These included their previous hepatitis C treatment, liver function, and hepatitis C genotype. (In this case, a genotype is a strain of a virus.)
Researchers looked at adults as well as children ages 3 years and older. The adults and children were given Epclusa every day for 12 weeks. The goal was to see how well the drug worked to help people achieve what’s known as a sustained virologic response (SVR). An SVR means that blood tests show the hepatitis C virus is no longer detectable in your body. This means the infection is considered cured.
Guidelines published by the American Association for the Study of Liver Disease and Infectious Diseases Society of America recommend Epclusa as a treatment option for people with all hepatitis C genotypes (1 to 6).
How much Epclusa costs is based on several factors. These can include your prescribed treatment regimen, the insurance plan you have, the pharmacy you use, and your location.
Epclusa is a brand-name medication that’s also available as a generic called sofosbuvir/velpatasvir. Brand-name drugs usually cost more than generics. To learn about the generic form, talk with your doctor or pharmacist.
Before you take Epclusa, there’s some important information to keep in mind. The drug may not be a safe option for you if you have certain medical conditions or other factors that affect your health. Some of these are mentioned below.
Boxed warning: Risk of reactivation of hepatitis B virus
Epclusa has a
Taking Epclusa has caused reactivation of the hepatitis B virus (HBV) in people with both HBV and hepatitis C. Reactivation of HBV can cause liver failure and, in rare cases, death. HBV reactivation may occur while you’re taking Epclusa or after you finish treatment.
Before you begin taking Epclusa, your doctor will typically order blood tests to check for hepatitis B (the infection caused by HBV). If you have HBV or have had it in the past, you may need to be treated before it’s safe for you to take Epclusa.
In addition to boxed warnings, Epclusa has other warnings.
If any of the following medical conditions or other health factors are relevant to you, talk with your doctor before starting Epclusa:
Now that you’ve learned about Epclusa for hepatitis C, you may still have some questions. Talk with your doctor or pharmacist, who can advise you on whether Epclusa might be right for you.
For details about other aspects of Epclusa, refer to this article.
Disclaimer: Medical News Today has made every effort to make certain that all information is factually correct, comprehensive, and up to date. However, this article should not be used as a substitute for the knowledge and expertise of a licensed healthcare professional. You should always consult your doctor or another healthcare professional before taking any medication. The drug information contained herein is subject to change and is not intended to cover all possible uses, directions, precautions, warnings, drug interactions, allergic reactions, or adverse effects. The absence of warnings or other information for a given drug does not indicate that the drug or drug combination is safe, effective, or appropriate for all patients or all specific uses.