Generic Name: emtricitabine + tenofovir alafenamide

Pronunciation: des-KOH-vee

Abbreviation: FTC + TAF

Other Market Name: N/A

Drug Class: Nucleoside/Nucleotide Reverse Transcriptase Inhibitors (NRTIs)

Company: Gilead Sciences

Approval Status: Approved

Generic Version Available: No

Experimental Code: N/A

Drug Recommendation

A component of recommended and alternative HIV treatment regimens for antiretroviral-naive people living with HIV, as indicated by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) Panel on Antiretroviral Guidelines for Adults and Adolescents. Visit for the full DHHS guidelines.

General Info

Descovy is an HIV medication. It contains two nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors (NRTIs). It was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in April 2016.

Descovy is a fixed-dose combination containing Emtriva (emtricitabine) and tenofovir alafenamide, or TAF. TAF is similar to tenofovir disoproxil fumarate (TDF), the active ingredient in Viread and a component of Stribild, Atripla, Complera and Truvada. TAF, however, can be used at much lower doses and is expected to cause fewer kidney- and bone-related side effects.

Descovy must be used in combination with other HIV drugs.

Descovy is not approved for use as pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) to reduce the risk of HIV. It has not yet been studied effectively for this indication and it is not known if Descovy is as effective as Truvada as PrEP.


Adult Dose: One tablet once a day. Each tablet contains 200mg emtricitabine + 25mg tenofovir alafenamide fumarate (TAF).

Pediatric Dose: One tablet once a day for individuals age 12 to 18 years who weigh more than 77lbs (35kg).

Dosing Info: Take with or without food.

Side Effects

The most common side effect is nausea.

Descovy may lead to new or worsening kidney problems, though this risk is lower compared with those using Truvada. Your healthcare provider may do blood tests to check your kidneys before and during treatment with Descovy.

Descovy may lead to bone problems, though this risk is lower compared with those using Truvada. Problems include bone pain or bones getting soft or thin, which may lead to fractures. Your healthcare provider may do tests to check your bones.

If you also have hepatitis B virus (HBV) and take Descovy, your hepatitis may become worse if you stop taking Descovy. Do not stop taking Descovy without first talking to your healthcare provider.

Drug Interactions

The following medications are not recommended while you are being treated with Descovy:
Antibiotics: Mycobutin (rifabutin), Rifamate (rifampin), Priftin (rifapentine)

Antiretrovirals:  Aptivus (tipranavir/ritonavir)

Anti-seizure medications: Tegretol (carbamazepine), Trileptal (oxcarbazepine), Luminal (phenobarbital), Dilantin (phenytoin)
Herbal products: St. John’s wort (or products containing St. John’s wort
Antivirals: Hepsera (adefovir)

Descovy should not be combined with any HIV medications that contain any of the active ingredients in Descovy. These include: Atripla, Complera, Edurant (unless recommended by your health care provider and you are taking rifabutin), Emtriva, Genvoya, Odefsey, Stribild, or Viread. Combining Descovy with HIV medications containing active ingredients similar to those in Odefsey should also be avoided. These include: Combivir, Epivir, and Epzicom.

For a review of these and other possibly drug interactions, consult the Descovy package insert:

Other Info

Before taking this medication, tell your doctor if you have kidney disease or liver disease (including hepatitis B). In addition, tell your doctor if you are pregnant or planning to become pregnant; if you are breast feeding, and all your medical conditions, including all prescription and over-the-counter medications and supplements you are taking.

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Last Reviewed: July 15, 2016