Complera and Atripla are both one-pill combination drugs that help manage HIV. The medications contain drugs that work in similar ways, but their differences, such as unique side effects, might be determining factors in choosing between the two. If either of these two drugs are options for you, take a look at this comparison to understand your treatment.
Both Complera and Atripla work to prevent HIV from making copies of itself. This helps lower the amount of HIV in your body. Both of these drugs can also help increase your number of CD4 cells, which are also called T-cells. Your T-cells help you fight infection and disease. HIV attacks and kills your T-cells. Having too few T-cells makes it hard, if not impossible, for your body to fight and recover from infections and disease.
Complera and Atripla are both pills that combine three different drugs: two nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors (NRTIs) and one non-nucleoside transcriptase inhibitor (NNRTI). NRTIs and NNRTIs both block HIV from using the enzyme reverse transcriptase to take over your T-cells to make copies of itself.
You asked, we answered
- Would one of these drugs ever be a better option than the other?
Complera may be an option for you if you take Atripla and the side effects from efavirenz cause you too many problems.- Healthline Medical Team
The table below compares features of these drugs.
|What are the drug strengths in each pill?||300 mg tenofovir disoproxil fumurate, 200 mg emtricitabine, 25 mg rilpivirine||300 mg tenofovir disoproxil fumurate, 200 mg emtricitabine, 600 mg efavirenz|
|Who is it usually prescribed for?||people 12 years or older who have never used an HIV drug, have a viral load* of less than 100,000 copies, or have taken another HIV drug and have a viral load of less than 50 copies||people 12 years or older who have never used an HIV drug|
|Can it be used with other drugs?||no||can be used on its own or with other HIV drugs|
|How often do I have to take it?||once per day||once per day|
|Do I take it with food or water?||take with food||take with water on an empty stomach|
Both Complera and Atripla come with many possible side effects. Some are similar, and some are unique to each drug.
The shared side effects of both drugs include:
- skin discoloration, such as small spots or freckles
- nausea or vomiting
- mild rash
- hives, trouble breathing, or other symptoms of an allergic reaction
- lipodystrophy, which is the redistribution of fat from areas like your face, arms, and legs to your abdomen and upper back
The side effects in the following table may occur in both Complera and Atripla but may be more common in one drug than the other.
|More common in Complera||More common in Atripla|
|dizziness||bone pain, softening, or thinning|
|headache||new or worsening kidney problems|
|sleeping trouble||psychiatric problems, including delusions, paranoia, aggressive behavior, or thoughts of suicide|
|mood changes, including depression||severe, blistering rash*|
|stomach pain or discomfort|
Atripla and Complera can both cause lactic acidosis (lactic acid buildup in your blood) and liver problems. The symptoms of lactic acidosis are generally severe and come on quickly. They include:
- breathing difficulties
- stomach pain with vomiting and nausea
- tiredness or weakness
- lightheadedness or dizziness
- irregular or fast heartbeat
- abnormal muscle pain
- feeling cold, especially in your legs and arms
Symptoms of liver problems include:
- abdominal pain
- pale bowel movements
- jaundice (yellowing of your skin or the whites of your eyes)
- appetite loss for a few days or more
- dark urine
Contact your doctor immediately if you have symptoms of lactic acidosis or liver problems.
Atripla and Complera can interact with other medications. However, more medications are likely to interact with Complera than with Atripla. For more information about these interactions, take a look at Healthline’s information on interactions with Complera and interactions with Atripla.
Also, if you’re taking Atripla and have hepatitis B, it’s important not to take the hepatitis B drug adefovir dipivoxil (Hepsera). Both drugs increase your risk of kidney problems.
Atripla and Complera are geared toward two different types of HIV patients. They both treat HIV infection in adults and children aged 12 years and older. However, Complera is only for these people who’ve also never taken an HIV medicine and who have less than 100,000 copies/mL of virus in their blood.
If you’re allergic to the ingredients of one medication, your doctor may recommend the other. You may also want to consider the side effects of each before making your decision. Talk to your doctor to help you determine which medication will be most effective and most appropriate for you.