What is Dovato?
Dovato is a medication used to treat HIV. It is a combination of two separate antiretroviral drugs in one pill, taken once a day.
How does Dovato work?
Dovato combines two antiretroviral drugs in one pill. Dovato can be used without other HIV medications as a complete treatment combination.
Dolutegravir is an HIV integrase inhibitor. Lamivudine is a nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitor. Each drug class works against HIV in a different way.
The aim of HIV treatment is to reduce the level of HIV (the ‘viral load’) in your body until it is undetectable – usually less than 50 copies of virus per ml of blood.
Taking HIV treatment and having an undetectable viral load protects your immune system and stops HIV being passed on to someone else during sex.
How do I take Dovato?
You should take Dovato once a day. Dovato can be taken with or without food.
HIV treatment works best if you take it every day, ideally at the same time each day. It may help to set an alarm, e.g. on your mobile phone, to remind you. If you forget to take a dose of Dovato and realise within 12 hours of the time you usually take it, take it as soon as possible with food, then take your next dose at your usual time. If you realise more than 12 hours late, don’t take a double dose, just skip the dose you’ve forgotten and then carry on with your normal routine.
If you vomit less than four hours after taking Dovato, take another dose. If you vomit more than four hours after taking Dovato there is no need to repeat the dose.
What are the possible side effects of Dovato?
All medicines have possible side effects. It’s a good idea to talk to a doctor, nurse or pharmacist about what to expect before you start taking any medication, and how to manage any side effects which occur.
A full list of side effects, including less common side effects, can be found in the patient information leaflet that comes with Dovato.
Side effects can be described as:
- Common – a side effect that occurs in at least one in a hundred people (more than 1%) who take this drug.
- Uncommon – a side effect that occurs in fewer than one in a hundred people (less than 1%) who take this drug.
Common side effects of Dovato include:
- Headache, dizziness, drowsiness, tiredness
- Depression, anxiety, difficulty in sleeping, abnormal dreams
- Nausea, diarrhoea, abdominal pain, vomiting, flatulence
- Increased liver enzymes or creatinine phosphokinase
- Rash, itching, hair loss
- Muscle and joint pains.
People with HIV may gain weight after starting antiretroviral treatment. Clinical trials of new HIV drugs introduced since 2003 show that people taking dolutegravir (one of the components in Dovato) are at higher risk of substantial weight gain than people taking other antiretroviral drugs.
Does Dovato interact with other drugs?
You should always tell your doctor and pharmacist about any other drugs or medication you are taking. That includes anything prescribed by another doctor, medicines you have bought from a high-street chemist, herbal and alternative treatments, and recreational or party drugs.
Some medicines or drugs are not safe if taken together – the interaction could cause increased, dangerous levels, or it could stop one or both of the drugs from working. Other drug interactions are less dangerous but still need to be taken seriously. If levels of one drug are affected, you may need to change the dose you take. This must only be done on the advice of your HIV doctor.
You should not take Dovato if you are currently taking medicines from the following groups:
- Cladribine (chemotherapy)
- Medicines containing sorbitol, xylitol, mannol, lactitol, maltitol (may be present as fillers in liquid medicines).
Antacids containing magnesium should be taken at least 6 hours before or 2 hours after Dovato.
Calcium supplements, iron supplements or multivitamins should be taken at the same time as Dovato, with a meal.
If Dovato is used with St John’s Wort, the tuberculosis treatment rifampicin or the anticonvulsants carbamazepine, phenobarbital, phenytoin or oxcarbazepine, an additional 50mg tablet of dolutegravir should be taken 12 hours after Dovato.
Can I take Dovato in pregnancy?
If you are considering having a baby, or think you might be pregnant, talk to your doctor as soon as possible about which combination of anti-HIV drugs would be right for you. It is important to take antiretroviral treatment during pregnancy to prevent passing HIV from mother to baby.
Dolutegravir use around the time of conception may lead to a small increase in the risk of neural tube defects in infants.
Dovato is not recommended for women who might become pregnant or in the first three months of pregnancy. Dovato should be used with effective contraception.
Can children take Dovato?
Dovato is not approved for children under the age of 12 years.
Talking to your doctor
If you have any concerns about your treatment or other aspects of your health, it’s important to talk about these. For example, if you have any symptom or side effect which may be from your treatment, or if you are finding it difficult to take your medication every day, one of your healthcare team will be able to help.
Building a relationship with a doctor may take time. You may feel very comfortable talking to your doctor, but some people find it more difficult, particularly when talking about sex, mental health, or symptoms they find embarrassing. It’s also easy to forget things you wanted to talk about.
Preparing for an appointment can be very helpful. Take some time to think about what you are going to say. You might find it helpful to talk to someone else first, or to make some notes and bring them to your appointment.
For detailed information on this drug, visit the Dovato page in the A-Z of antiretroviral medications.