Viread Side Effects Linked to Kidney Failure

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Viread Side Effects Linked to Kidney Failure

New medications that hit the market in the 1990s and early 2000s dramatically changed the way people with HIV were treated, making the difference between life and death for many. Nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors (NRTIs) and other HIV m

edications turned the deathly virus into a manageable, chronic condition. This was a game-changer for so many people.

One new type of drug, Viread, hit the market in 2001 after gaining approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Viread is used in combination with other retroviral drugs to treat HIV in adults and children as young as 2 years old, as well as chronic hepatitis B infection.

Viread has helped treat many people with HIV for nearly two decades, but the drug has been potentially harmful for others. The drug is associated with severe adverse reactions, including chronic kidney disease and kidney failure, liver problems, bone loss, and a rare condition called lactic acidosis, that have sent numerous patients to the hospital and even caused death.

If you suffered side effect while on an HIV or Hepatitis C drug, you may be entitled to compensation.

Submit your claim inquiry now to see if you qualify.

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People affected by these dangerous side effects have begun filing lawsuits against the maker of Viread, Gilead Sciences Inc. These lawsuits accuse the manufacturer of developing a defective drug and failing to warn about its risks.  

What is Viread?

Viread is a prescription medication used in combination with other drugs to treat patients with HIV. Viread is a type of HIV medication called a nucleotide analog reverse transcriptase inhibitor (RTI) and HBV reverse transcriptase inhibitor. It is approved to treat adults and children as young as 2. It is also used to treat chronic hepatitis B in adults and children 12 years of age or older.

Viread works by incorporating itself into a patient’s DNA and inhibiting the activity of the HIV virus. HIV, or Human Immunodeficiency Virus, is a powerful virus that attacks the body’s immune system and makes the infected person susceptible to other infections. It does this by attacking T-helper cells, a type of white blood cell, by making copies of itself inside those cells and gradually taking over the immune system. If the virus isn’t treated, it will eventually destroy the immune system entirely. Because the immune system is the body’s only natural defense against infections and disease, untreated HIV usually leads to death.

Untreated HIV can also develop into AIDS, or Acquired ImmunoDeficiency Syndrome, which refers to a set a symptoms caused by HIV. A person is said to have AIDS when their immune system is too weak to fight off infection and they develop certain symptoms and illnesses. This is the last stage of HIV and if left untreated will lead to death.

There is no cure for HIV or AIDS but HIV medications can be a life-saving measure to those living with HIV, allowing those individuals to live longer, fuller lives. While Viread and other similar HIV medications have saved the lives of thousands of people living with the virus, the drugs’ active ingredient, tenofovir disoproxil fumarate, has also been linked to potentially serious adverse effects in some patients.

Taking Viread

Viread is available in tablet or powder form. The recommended dose for patients 12 years of age or older is 300 mg per day, taken orally once a day with or without food. The recommended dose for patients younger than 12 years of age varies. These recommendations are not suitable for patients who have impaired kidney function; those individuals should take lower doses of the drug since it is excreted through the kidneys and could cause further damage or complications.

Viread tablets come in different strengths, including 150, 200, 250 and 300 mg. Viread powder comes in one strength, 40 mg per 1 g of oral powder, and is typically given to younger patients who cannot take oral tablets.

The Viread label indicates there are no contraindications that would prevent the drug from being used in certain circumstances or in certain patient populations; however, patients with impaired kidney function should be cautious before starting Viread. It is important to always speak with your doctor before starting a new medication so you can go over the risks and benefits.  

Viread Side Effects Linked to Potentially Harmful Complications

Viread and similar medications have been associated with potentially serious side effects that can lead to life-threatening complications, even death.

Some of these serious side effects include:

  • Chronic Kidney Disease
  • Severe renal deficiency
  • Fatal renal insufficiency
  • End stage renal disease
  • Loss of bone density
  • Low bone mineral density
  • Bone loss
  • Bone breaks of fractures
  • Tooth loss
  • Fanconi Syndrome―a rare disorder of kidney tubule function that results in excess amounts of glucose, bicarbonate, phosphates, uric acid, potassium, and certain amino acids being excreted in the urine
  • Osteomalacia (softening of the bones)
  • Osteoporosis with pathological fracture

Call your doctor right away if you experience any of the symptoms associated with these side effects.

Severe Kidney Problems and Viread

Viread has been associated with new or worsening kidney problems in some patients. This may be due to the fact that Viread leaves the body mostly through the kidneys. Patients should be tested for creatinine levels before taking Viread, especially if they are at an increased risk for kidney problems prior to starting treatment with Viread or other tenofovir-disoproxil-fumarate- containing drugs. This means having your blood tested before starting treatment.

Kidney problems that some Viread patients have experienced include chronic kidney disease (CKD), severe renal deficiency, fatal renal insufficiency, and end stage renal disease.

Kidney problems that go untreated may progress into kidney failure―a life-threatening condition that could lead to death.

Symptoms of kidney problems include:

  • Headache
  • Anemia
  • Bleeding and bruising easily
  • Weakness
  • Nausea, vomiting, or less desire to eat generally
  • Feeling fatigued and drowsy
  • Mental symptoms such as lowered mental alertness, trouble concentrating, confusion, or seizures
  • Muscle cramps or twitching
  • Thirst
  • Increased urination at night
  • High blood pressure
  • Numbness in the extremities
  • Diarrhea
  • Itchy skin or eyes
  • Skin color changes
  • Swelling and puffiness
  • Difficulty breathing due to fluid in the lungs or anemia
  • Decreased urine output
  • Poor digestion

Bone Loss and Impaired Kidney Function while using Viread

Some patients have developed bone problems while taking Viread, which may be sign of impaired kidney function. Viread may affect bone mineral density, which can lead to other problems like bone loss, low bone mineral density, bone breaks and fractures, and tooth loss. Osteomalacia, which is the softening of the bones, or osteoporosis with pathological fractures may also be a potential side effect of taking Viread.

The long-term effects of Viread on bone health and fracture risk is unknown. It is recommended that patients—adults and children—with a history of pathologic bone fracture or other risk factors for osteoporosis or bone loss should have their bone mineral density tested before being treated with Viread.

Signs and symptoms of bone problems include:

  • Persistent or worsening bone pain
  • Fractures
  • Muscular pain or weakness
  • Pain in the extremities

If you suffered side effect while on an HIV or Hepatitis C drug, you may be entitled to compensation.

Submit your claim inquiry now to see if you qualify.

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Lactic Acidosis, Liver Problems, and Other Side Effects of Viread

Lactic Acidosis

Viread and other medications containing the same active ingredient have been associated with other potentially serious adverse effects. Viread and similar medications now carry a black box warning―the FDA’s strongest warning short of taking the drug off the market―for their potential to cause lactic acidosis in some patients.

Lactic acidosis is a rare but serious condition that occurs when too much lactic acid builds up in the blood. Lactic acid is usually made in the body during intense exercise when there is not enough oxygen available to use. The body creates lactate, or lactic acid, to convert into energy, but it can build up in the blood stream faster than the body burns it off, causing sore muscles and other side effects.

Patients taking Viread or similar medications who develop symptoms of lactic acidosis should see their doctor right away to get treatment. Lactic acidosis can lead to death if left untreated.

Some patients may be at increased risk for developing lactic acidosis compared to others. One risk factor for lactic acidosis is taking Viread or other HIV medications that contain the active ingredient tenofovir disoproxil fumarate.  

Other risk factors include:

  • Being female
  • Obesity
  • Poor liver function
  • Pregnancy
  • Lower CD4 cell count

Signs and symptoms of lactic acidosis include:

  • Weakness or unusual tiredness
  • Shortness of breath or fast breathing
  • Unusual muscle pain
  • Stomach pain with nausea and vomiting
  • Fast or abnormal heartbeat
  • Feeling dizzy or lightheaded
  • Cold or blue hands and feet

Liver Problems

Some patients have reported severe liver problems after taking Viread to treat their HIV. These problems have been reported by patients who had risk factors for liver disease, while others were reported by patients with no known risk factors. Some of these cases have been fatal and the majority of cases were reported by women, according to the Viread label.  

Patients have reported liver problems including chronic kidney disease, severe renal deficiency, fatal renal insufficiency, and end stage renal disease.

Symptoms of liver problems include:

  • Yellow skin and eyes
  • Dark, “tea-colored” urine
  • Nausea
  • Light-colored stools
  • Loss of appetite for several days or longer
  • Stomach-area pain

Common Side Effects of Viread

The most serious potential side effects of Viread are relatively rare, there are more common side effects of the drug.

These common side effects include:

  • Abdominal pain
  • Nausea
  • Diarrhea
  • Weight loss
  • Tiredness
  • Headache
  • Dizziness
  • Depression
  • Rash
  • Problems sleeping
  • Abnormal dreams

Speak with your Doctor Right Away if you Experience any of these Side Effects

Patients who experience any of the above-mentioned side effects should speak with their doctor to make sure it is safe for them to continue taking Viread. If not addressed by a healthcare provider, some of these adverse effects can lead to more serious, life-threatening conditions and even death. If these symptoms develop, you may need to stop taking Viread and find a different treatment option that works better with your body. It is important to stay informed and speak to your doctor about all the potential risks of HIV medications when determining which drug is right for you.

Other HIV Medications Associated with Serious Side Effects

There are numerous medications currently on the market that are used to treat HIV-positive patients and that also contain the active ingredient in Viread associated with serious side effects.

These medications include:

  • Truvada (Gilead Sciences Inc.)
  • Truvada for PrEP (Gilead Sciences Inc.)
  • Atripla (Gilead Sciences Inc.)
  • Complera  (Gilead Sciences Inc.)
  • Stribild  (Gilead Sciences Inc.)

All of these drugs contain some form of the active ingredient, tenofovir, which may cause the same serious side effects linked to Viread. Patients taking any of the above-mentioned drugs and experience adverse side effects like liver and kidney problems or bone loss should speak with their doctor right away.

Viread Lawsuits

People who took Viread and experienced serious, negative side effects are now filing lawsuits against the drug’s manufacturer, Gilead Sciences Inc. These lawsuits accuse Gilead Sciences of manufacturing a defective product and failing to adequately warn about the drug’s risks.

Filing a lawsuit may be one of the only ways for those affected to seek compensation for the damages they incurred, such as lost wages and mounting medical expenses. Talking with an experienced lawyer or attorney is the first step towards getting the justice you deserve and holding the pharmaceutical companies accountable for the harm they caused when putting profits over the safety of their consumers.

If you or a loved one were prescribed Viread, or similar drugs like Truvada, Truvada for PReP, Atripla, Complera, or Stribild, and experienced negative side effects, you may be entitled to financial compensation. There may be significant cash payouts or settlements as a result of these lawsuits.

If you experienced side effects like kidney, liver, or bone problems, you may qualify for a Viread claim. Call the experienced attorneys at Schmidt National Law Firm today at 1-800-631-5656 to see if you qualify for a Viread Lawsuit, or visit to file a claim now.

Viread Lawsuits are in the early stages of discovery, and no case has gone to trial. There is still time to file a claim, but the statute of limitations vary state to state so don’t wait to contact an attorney.  


FDA. Viread label. Accessed Oct. 5, 2018:,022577s002lbl.pdf

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. AIDS Info. Accessed Oct. 5, 2018:

Avert. What Are HIV and AIDS? Accessed Oct. 5, 2018:

National Kidney Center. Chronic Kidney Disease, Stage 5. Accessed Oct. 5, 2018: