Atovaquone for pneumocystis pneumonia (Wellvone)

It is important to take atovaquone with food, preferably food which has a high fat content.

Take one 5 ml spoonful of medicine in the morning and one 5 ml spoonful in the evening for 21 days.

If you have problems with diarrhoea when you first start treatment, tell your doctor.

About atovaquone

Type of medicine Antiprotozoal
Used for Pneumonia caused by an organism called Pneumocystis jirovecii
Also called Wellvone®
Available as Oral liquid medicine

Atovaquone is used to treat a chest infection called pneumocystis pneumonia. This lung infection is caused by an organism called Pneumocystis jirovecii and occurs in people whose immune system has been weakened - for example, by AIDS. Atovaquone is prescribed when other treatments cannot be used. It is prescribed by doctors who are specialists.

Atovaquone works by killing the organism causing the infection.

Before taking atovaquone

Some medicines are not suitable for people with certain conditions, and sometimes a medicine may only be used if extra care is taken. For these reasons, before you start taking atovaquone it is important that your doctor or pharmacist knows:

  • If you are pregnant or breast-feeding.
  • If you have liver or kidney problems.
  • If you are taking any other medicines. This includes any medicines you are taking which are available to buy without a prescription, such as herbal and complementary medicines.
  • If you have ever had an allergic reaction to a medicine.

How to take atovaquone

  • Before you start this treatment, read the manufacturer's printed information leaflet from the pack. The leaflet will give you more information about atovaquone and a full list of side-effects which you may experience from taking it.
  • Take the medicine exactly as your doctor tells you to, and remember to shake the bottle well before you pour out your doses. The usual dose is one 5 ml spoonful twice daily (morning and night) for 21 days. It is very important that you take your doses with food, preferably foods that are high in fat. This is because high-fat foods help your body absorb atovaquone and make your treatment more effective. If you have difficulty eating meals for any reason, let your doctor know about this.
  • Try to take atovaquone at the same times each day as this will help you remember to take it.
  • If you forget to take a dose, take one as soon as you remember (with some food) but do not take two doses together.

Getting the most from your treatment

  • Keep your regular appointments with your doctor. This is so your doctor can check on your progress. Your doctor will want to do some tests during this treatment to check that the medicine is working for you.
  • Remember to take the full course of this medicine.
  • If you have any medical or dental treatment, tell the person carrying out the treatment which medicines you are taking.
  • If you buy any medicines, check with a pharmacist that they are suitable to take with your other medicines.

Can atovaquone cause problems?

Along with their useful effects, most medicines can cause unwanted side-effects although not everyone experiences them. These usually improve as your body adjusts to the new medicine, but speak with your doctor or pharmacist if any of the following side-effects continue or become troublesome.

Very common atovaquone side-effects - these affect more than 1 in 10 people who take this medicine
What can I do if I experience this?
Feeling sick Stick to simple meals. Remember to take your doses with a meal
An itchy skin rash If this becomes troublesome, speak with your doctor
Common atovaquone side-effects - these affect less than 1 in 10 people who take this medicine What can I do if I experience this?
Diarrhoea Let your doctor know about this, particularly if it is at the start of your treatment. It may mean that your body is not absorbing the full dose of atovaquone and the treatment could be less effective for you
Headache Ask your doctor or pharmacist to recommend a suitable painkiller
Difficulty sleeping, high temperature If either of these becomes troublesome, speak with your doctor
Changes to some blood tests Your doctor will monitor you for these

Important: if you become breathless or start having breathing problems, or if you notice any swelling of your mouth, throat or face, you should contact a doctor straightaway.  These could be signs of an allergic-type reaction.

If you experience any other symptoms which you think may be due to this medicine, speak with your doctor or pharmacist.

How to store atovaquone

  • Keep all medicines out of the reach and sight of children.
  • Store in a cool, dry place, away from direct heat and light.
  • This medicine will keep for 21 days once the bottle has been opened.