Adefovir treats chronic hepatitis B. Take with a full glass of water. Your doctor will need to order several labs throughout your treatment and after your treatment.

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Adefovir Overview

Reviewed: October 10, 2013

Adefovir is a prescription medication used to treat chronic infections of hepatitis B virus in people over 12 years old. Adefovir belongs to a group of drugs called nucleotide analogs, which help decrease the amount of hepatitis B virus in the body.

This medication comes in tablet form and is usually taken once a day, with or without food.

Common side effects include weakness, headache, and nausea. 

How was your experience with Adefovir Dipivoxil?

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What are you taking Adefovir Dipivoxil for?

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  • Other
  • Hepatitis B

How long have you been taking it?

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  • Less than a week
  • A couple weeks
  • A month or so
  • A few months
  • A year or so
  • Two years or more

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Adefovir Cautionary Labels


Uses of Adefovir

Adefovir is a prescription medicine used to treat patients at least 12 years of age with continuing (chronic) infections with active hepatitis B virus. 

This medication may be prescribed for other uses.  Ask your doctor or pharmacist for more information.

Adefovir Brand Names

Adefovir may be found in some form under the following brand names:

Adefovir Drug Class

Side Effects of Adefovir

Serious side effects have been reported. See "Drug Precautions" section.

Common side effects include:

  • weakness
  • headache
  • stomach pain
  • nausea
  • intestinal gas
  • diarrhea
  • indigestion
  • changes in the way the kidneys work

Additional side effects in liver transplant patients with chronic hepatitis B are vomiting, rash and itching. Some patients with liver transplants also had undesirable effects on their kidneys, including failure of the kidneys.

These are not all of the possible side effects of adefovir. For more information, ask your doctor or pharmacist.

Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.

Adefovir Interactions

Do not take adefovir if you are already taking Atripla, Complera, Stribild, Truvada, or Viread.

Some medicines may affect how adefovir works, especially medicines that affect how your kidneys work. Adefovir can affect how your other medicines work. Your dose of adefovir and the other medicines may be changed. Do not take any other medicines while you are taking adefovir, unless your doctor has told you it is okay.

Adefovir Precautions

1.  Some people who stop taking adefovir get a very serious form of hepatitis. This usually happens within 12 weeks after stopping. You will need to have regular blood tests to check for liver function and hepatitis B virus levels if you stop taking adefovir.

2.  Adefovir may cause a severe kidney problem called nephrotoxicity. It usually happens in people that already have a kidney problem, but it can happen to anyone that uses adefovir. You will need to have regular blood tests to check for kidney function while you are taking adefovir.
3.  If you get or have HIV that isn't being treated with medicines, adefovir may increase the chances your HIV infection cannot be helped with usual HIV medicines. This can happen if you get or have HIV and don't know it, or if your HIV is not being treated while you are taking adefovir. You should get an HIV test before you start taking adefovir and anytime after that when there's a chance you were exposed to HIV.
4.  Some people who have taken medicines like adefovir that are called nucleoside or nucleotide analogs have developed a serious condition called lactic acidosis (build up of an acid in the blood). Lactic acidosis is a medical emergency and must be treated in the hospital. Call your doctor right away if you get any of the following signs of lactic acidosis:
  • You feel very weak or tired.
  • You have unusual (not normal) muscle pain.
  • You have trouble breathing.
  • You have stomach pain with nausea and vomiting.
  • You feel cold, especially in your arms and legs.
  • You feel dizzy or lightheaded.
  • You have a fast or irregular heartbeat.

Some people who have taken medicines like adefovir have developed serious liver problems called hepatotoxicity, with liver enlargement (hepatomegaly) and fat in the liver (steatosis). Call your doctor right away if you get any of the following signs of liver problems.

  • Your skin or the white part of your eyes turns yellow (jaundice).
  • Your urine turns dark.
  • Your bowel movements (stools) turn light in color.
  • You don't feel like eating food for several days or longer.
  • You feel sick to your stomach (nausea).
  • You have lower stomach pain.

You may be more likely to get lactic acidosis or serious liver problems if you are very overweight (obese) or have been taking nucleoside analog medicines [Atripla (efavirenz plus emtricitabine plus tenofovir disoproxil fumarate), Complera (emtricitabine plus rilpivirine plus tenofovir disoproxil fumarate), Combivir (zidovudine plus lamivudine), Emtriva (emtricitabine), Epivir, Epivir-HBV (lamivudine), Epzicom (abacavir plus lamivudine), Hivid (zalcitabine), Retrovir (zidovudine), Trizivir (zidovudine plus lamivudine plus abacavir), Truvada (emtricitabine plus tenofovir disoproxil fumarate), Videx (didanosine), Viread (tenofovir disoproxil fumarate), Zerit (stavudine), and Ziagen (abacavir)] for a long time.

  • Do not take adefovir if you are allergic to any of the ingredients in adefovir. 
  • Do not take adefovir if you are already taking Atripla, Complera, Stribild, Truvada, or Viread.

Adefovir Food Interactions

Medications can interact with certain foods. In some cases, this may be harmful and your doctor may advise you to avoid certain foods. In the case of adefovir, there are no specific foods that you must exclude from your diet when receiving this medication.

Inform MD

Tell your doctor if:

  • You are pregnant. It is not known if adefovir can harm your unborn child. You and your doctor will need to decide if adefovir is right for you. If you take adefovir and you are pregnant, talk to your doctor about how you can join the pregnancy registry.
  • You are breastfeeding. It is not known if adefovir can pass into your milk and if it can harm your baby. You will need to choose either to breast feed or take adefovir, but not both.
  • You have kidney problems now or had them before. Your dose and schedule of adefovir may be reduced. Blood tests will need to be done regularly to see how your kidneys are working.

Tell your doctor about all the medicines you take, including prescription and non-prescription medicines, vitamins, and herbal supplements.


Adefovir and Pregnancy

Tell your doctor if you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant.

The FDA categorizes medications based on safety for use during pregnancy. Five categories - A, B, C, D, and X, are used to classify the possible risks to an unborn baby when a medication is taken during pregnancy.

This medication falls into category C. In animal studies, pregnant animals were given this medication and had some babies born with problems. No well-controlled studies have been done in humans. Therefore, this medication may be used if the potential benefits to the mother outweigh the potential risks to the unborn child.

Adefovir and Lactation

Tell your doctor if you are breastfeeding. It is not known if adefovir can pass into your milk and if it can harm your baby. You will need to choose either to breast feed or take adefovir, but not both.


Adefovir Usage

  • Your doctor will tell you how much adefovir to take.
  • Your doctor will tell you when and how often to take adefovir.
  • Take adefovir the same time each day that your doctor tells you. If you forget to take adefovir, take it as soon as you remember that day. Do not take more than 1 dose of adefovir in a day. Do not take 2 doses at the same time. Call your doctor or pharmacist if you are not sure what to do.
  • Do not change your dose of adefovir or stop adefovir without talking to your doctor. Your hepatitis may get worse if you change doses or stop.
  • You may take adefovir with or without food.
  • When your adefovir supply gets low, call your doctor or pharmacy for a refill. Do not run out of adefovir.
  • If you take too much adefovir, call your local poison control center or emergency room right away.

Some patients get worse or very serious hepatitis B symptoms when they stop taking adefovir (see, "Drug Precautions"). It is not known how long you should use adefovir. You and your doctor will need to decide when it is best for you to stop taking adefovir. After you stop taking adefovir, your doctor will still need to check your health and take blood tests to check your liver for a few months.

What to avoid while taking adefovir:

Avoid doing things that can spread hepatitis B virus since adefovir doesn't stop you from passing the infection to others.

  • Do not share needles or other injection equipment.
  • Do not share personal items that can have blood or body fluids on them, like toothbrushes or razor blades.
  • Do not have any kind of sex without protection. Practice "safe sex" using condoms and dental dams.


Adefovir Dosage

Take this medication exactly as prescribed by your doctor. Follow the directions on your prescription label carefully.

The dose your doctor recommends may be based on the following:

  • the condition being treated
  • other medical conditions you have
  • other medications you are taking
  • how you respond to this medication
  • your kidney function

The recommended dose of adefovir is 10 mg, once daily.

Adefovir Overdose

If you take too much adefovir, call your healthcare provider or local Poison Control Center, or seek emergency medical attention right away.

If adefovir is administered by a healthcare provider in a medical setting, it is unlikely that an overdose will occur. However, if overdose is suspected, seek emergency medical attention.

Other Requirements

  • Adefovir will not cure your chronic hepatitis B.
  • Adefovir may help lower the amount of hepatitis B virus in your body.
  • Adefovir may lower the ability of the virus to multiply and infect new liver cells.
  • It is not known if adefovir will reduce your chances of getting liver cancer or liver damage (cirrhosis) from chronic hepatitis B.
  • It is not known how long adefovir may help your hepatitis. Sometimes viruses change in your body and medicines no longer work. This is called drug resistance.
  • Adefovir does not stop you from spreading hepatitis B virus to others by sex or sharing needles. So practice safe sex and needle use.

Adefovir tablets should be stored at room temperature and should be stored in their original container.

Keep this and all medications out of the reach of children.

Adefovir FDA Warning


Severe acute exacerbations of hepatitis have been reported in patients who have discontinued anti-Hepatitis B therapy including adefovir. Hepatic function should be monitored closely with both clinical and laboratory follow-up for at least several months in patients who discontinue anti-Hepatitis B therapy. If appropriate, resumption of anti-Hepatitis B therapy may be warranted.

In patients at risk of or having underlying renal dysfunction, chronic administration of adefovir may result in nephrotoxicity. These patients should be monitored closely for renal function and may require dose adjustment.

HIV resistance may emerge in chronic hepatitis B patients with unrecognized or untreated Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) infection treated with anti-hepatitis B therapies, such as therapy with adefovir, that may have activity against HIV.

Lactic acidosis and severe hepatomegaly with steatosis, including fatal cases, have been reported with the use of nucleoside analogs alone or in combination with other antiretrovirals.