Vocabria (cabotegravir)

Reviewed by: HU Medical Review Board | Last reviewed: 6/1/22

Vocabria (cabotegravir) is approved for the short-term treatment of HIV. It is for people who are getting ready to start long-term injectable treatment for HIV. Vocabria is intended to be used by people who have a suppressed viral load and whose HIV is not thought to be resistant to the drug.1

Vocabria is used alongside another drug called Edurant (rilpivirine). Vocabria and Edurant are taken together once a day. Together, these drugs make up the ingredients in the extended-release or long-term injectable drug called Cabenuva. Cabenuva can be taken once a month instead of daily for HIV treatment.1

What to know about extended-release drugs

Because extended-release drugs stay in the body for a long time, it is important to know if the person taking them is sensitive to the drug or will experience any major side effects before starting them.

If a person experiences a side effect to a drug meant to last a month, they may also experience the unwanted side effect for that long. Trying short-term versions of long-acting drugs can help determine how a person might react. This can help prevent unwanted side effects that might take longer to go away.1

Proceeding with Cabenuva

If a person tolerates or has no major side effects from taking Vocabria and Edurant, they may be able to move forward with trying Cabenuva. This would allow them to change from daily dosing to once monthly. Vocabria can also be used if someone who is taking Cabenuva needs to miss a monthly dose.1

Ingredients in Vocabria

The active ingredient in Vocabria is cabotegravir.1

How does Vocabria work?

The main ingredient in Vocabria is an integrase inhibitor. This means it blocks HIV from getting into our DNA. Vocabria and Edurant work together to block major steps in the life cycle of HIV. This helps reduce viral load, which may help a person achieve and maintain HIV suppression.1

Possible side effects of Vocabria

The most common side effects of Vocabria include:1

  • Nausea
  • Headache
  • Trouble sleeping or abnormal dreams
  • Anxiety

Severe allergic reactions may occur while taking Vocabria. Before starting Vocabria, tell your doctor if you have ever had any allergic reactions. This is especially important if you have had allergic reactions to other HIV drugs. Signs of an allergic reaction include:1

  • Rash
  • Trouble breathing
  • Wheezing
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Swollen tongue

These are not all the possible side effects of Vocabria. Talk to your doctor about what to expect or if you experience any changes that concern you during treatment with Vocabria.

Things to note

Vocabria may impact liver function. Your doctor will monitor your liver while you are taking Vocabria. Signs of liver function problems include yellowing of the skin or whites of the eyes, dark urine, and upper right stomach pain. Tell your doctor right away if you have any signs of liver problems.1

There are no studies of cabotegravir in pregnant women. The effect of Vocabria on pregnancy is unknown. It is expected that cabotegravir will be secreted into breast milk based on animal data; however, more research is needed.1

It is possible for depressive disorders or depression to occur when taking Vocabria. If you or a loved one is feeling depressed, down, hopeless, or having thoughts of harming yourself or others while taking Vocabria, contact your doctor immediately.1

Vocabria may interact with other drugs, including over-the-counter vitamins and supplements. Before beginning treatment for HIV, tell your doctor about any other drugs, vitamins, or supplements you are taking. This includes over-the-counter drugs.1

For more information, read the full prescribing information of Vocabria.

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