Why is this medication prescribed?
Atovaquone is used to treat Pneumocystis jiroveci [Pneumocystis carinii] pneumonia (PCP; type of pneumonia most likely to affect people with human immunodeficiency virus [HIV]) in teenagers and adults. Atovaquone is also used to prevent PCP in teenagers and adults who cannot take another medication used for prevention. Atovaquone is in a class of medications called antiprotozoal agents. It works by stopping the growth of certain types of protozoa that can cause pneumonia.
How should this medicine be used?
Atovaquone comes as a suspension (liquid) to take by mouth. When atovaquone is used to treat pneumonia, it is usually taken with meals twice a day for 21 days. When atovaquone is used to prevent pneumonia, it is usually taken with a meal once a day. Take atovaquone at around the same time(s) every day. Follow the directions on your prescription label carefully, and ask your doctor or pharmacist to explain any part you do not understand. Take atovaquone exactly as directed. Do not take more or less of it or take it more often than prescribed by your doctor.
If your medication comes in a bottle, shake the bottle gently before each use to mix the medication evenly. Use a dose measuring spoon or a cup to measure the correct amount of liquid for each dose, not a regular household spoon.
If your medication comes in a packet, you may drink the medication directly from the packet or pour the medication into a dosing spoon or cup.
Take this medication until you finish the prescription. Do not stop taking the medication early even if you are taking it to treat pneumonia and you feel better. If you stop taking atovaquone too soon or skip doses, your infection may not be completely treated or you may not be protected from future infections.
If you have PCP, you may also have other types of lung infections. Atovaquone will not treat these infections. Your doctor may prescribe other antibiotics for you to take along with this medication.
Other uses for this medicine
Atovaquone is also sometimes used along with other medications to treat babesiosis (an infectious disease carried by ticks). Talk to your doctor about the risks of using this medication for your condition.
This medication may be prescribed for other uses; ask your doctor or pharmacist for more information.
What special precautions should I follow?
Before taking atovaquone,
- tell your doctor and pharmacist if you are allergic to atovaquone, any other medications, or any of the ingredients in atovaquone suspension. Ask your pharmacist for a list of the ingredients.
- tell your doctor and pharmacist what other prescription and nonprescription medications, vitamins, nutritional supplements, and herbal products you are taking or plan to take. Be sure to mention any of the following: rifabutin (Mycobutin) or rifampin (Rifadin, Rimactane). Your doctor may need to change the doses of your medications or monitor you carefully for side effects.
- tell your doctor if you have or have ever had stomach or intestinal disorders or liver disease.
- tell your doctor if you are pregnant, plan to become pregnant, or are breast-feeding. If you become pregnant while taking atovaquone, call your doctor.
What special dietary instructions should I follow?
Unless your doctor tells you otherwise, continue your normal diet.
What should I do if I forget a dose?
Take the missed dose as soon as you remember it. However, if it is almost time for the next dose, skip the missed dose and continue your regular dosing schedule. Do not take a double dose to make up for a missed one.
What side effects can this medication cause?
Atovaquone may cause side effects. Tell your doctor if any of these symptoms are severe or do not go away:
- difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep
Some side effects can be serious. If you experience any of these symptoms, call your doctor immediately:
- swelling of the eyes, face, lips, tongue, mouth, or throat
- difficulty breathing or swallowing
- hoarseness or throat tightness
Atovaquone may cause other side effects. Call your doctor if you have any unusual problems while taking this medication.
If you experience a serious side effect, you or your doctor may send a report to the Food and Drug Administration's (FDA) MedWatch Adverse Event Reporting program online (http://www.fda.gov/Safety/MedWatch) or by phone (1-800-332-1088).
What should I know about storage and disposal of this medication?
Keep this medication in the container it came in, tightly closed, and out of reach of children. Store it at room temperature and away from excess heat and moisture (not in the bathroom). Do not freeze this medication.
It is important to keep all medication out of sight and reach of children as many containers (such as weekly pill minders and those for eye drops, creams, patches, and inhalers) are not child-resistant and young children can open them easily. To protect young children from poisoning, always lock safety caps and immediately place the medication in a safe location – one that is up and away and out of their sight and reach. http://www.upandaway.org
Unneeded medications should be disposed of in special ways to ensure that pets, children, and other people cannot consume them. However, you should not flush this medication down the toilet. Instead, the best way to dispose of your medication is through a medicine take-back program. Talk to your pharmacist or contact your local garbage/recycling department to learn about take-back programs in your community. See the FDA's Safe Disposal of Medicines website (http://goo.gl/c4Rm4p) for more information if you do not have access to a take-back program.
In case of emergency/overdose
In case of overdose, call the poison control helpline at 1-800-222-1222. Information is also available online at https://www.poisonhelp.org/help. If the victim has collapsed, had a seizure, has trouble breathing, or can't be awakened, immediately call emergency services at 911.
Symptoms of overdose may include the following:
- grey-bluish color of lips and/or skin
- shortness of breath
What other information should I know?
Keep all appointments with your doctor.
Do not let anyone else take your medication. Ask your pharmacist any questions you have about refilling your prescription.
It is important for you to keep a written list of all of the prescription and nonprescription (over-the-counter) medicines you are taking, as well as any products such as vitamins, minerals, or other dietary supplements. You should bring this list with you each time you visit a doctor or if you are admitted to a hospital. It is also important information to carry with you in case of emergencies.