Uses of Atovaquone

Atovaquone is used to treat Pneumocystis jiroveci [Pneumocystis carinii] pneumonia (PCP; type of pneumonia most likely to affect people with human immunodeficiency virus [HIV]) in teenagers and adults. Atovaquone is also used to prevent PCP in teenagers and adults who cannot take another medication used for prevention. Atovaquone is in a class of medications called antiprotozoal agents. It works by stopping the growth of certain types of protozoa that can cause pneumonia.

Side Effects of Atovaquone

Atovaquone may cause side effects. Tell your doctor if any of these symptoms are severe or do not go away:

  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • diarrhea
  • headache
  • dizziness
  • anxiety
  • difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep

Some side effects can be serious. If you experience any of these symptoms, call your doctor immediately:

Atovaquone may cause other side effects. Call your doctor if you have any unusual problems while taking this medication.

Warnings & Precautions

Before taking atovaquone:

  • tell your doctor and pharmacist if you are allergic to atovaquone, any other medications, or any of the ingredients in atovaquone suspension. Ask your pharmacist for a list of the ingredients.
  • tell your doctor and pharmacist what other prescription and nonprescription medications, vitamins, nutritional supplements, and herbal products you are taking or plan to take. Be sure to mention any of the following: rifabutin (Mycobutin) or rifampin (Rifadin, Rimactane). Your doctor may need to change the doses of your medications or monitor you carefully for side effects.
  • tell your doctor if you have or have ever had stomach or intestinal disorders or liver disease.
  • tell your doctor if you are pregnant, plan to become pregnant, or are breast-feeding. If you become pregnant while taking atovaquone, call your doctor.


  • Atovaquone comes as a suspension (liquid) to take by mouth. When atovaquone is used to treat pneumonia, it is usually taken with meals twice a day for 21 days. When atovaquone is used to prevent pneumonia, it is usually taken with a meal once a day. Take atovaquone at around the same time(s) every day. Follow the directions on your prescription label carefully, and ask your doctor or pharmacist to explain any part you do not understand. Take atovaquone exactly as directed. Do not take more or less of it or take it more often than prescribed by your doctor.
  • If your medication comes in a bottle, shake the bottle gently before each use to mix the medication evenly. Use a dose-measuring spoon or a cup to measure the correct amount of liquid for each dose, not a regular household spoon.
  • If your medication comes in a packet, you may drink the medication directly from the packet or pour the medication into a dosing spoon or cup.
  • Take this medication until you finish the prescription. Do not stop taking the medication early even if you are taking it to treat pneumonia and you feel better. If you stop taking atovaquone too soon or skip doses, your infection may not be completely treated or you may not be protected from future infections.
  • If you have PCP, you may also have other types of lung infections. Atovaquone will not treat these infections. Your doctor may prescribe other antibiotics for you to take along with this medication.


Keep all appointments with your doctor.

Do not let anyone else take your medication. Ask your pharmacist any questions you have about refilling your prescription.

It is important for you to keep a written list of all of the prescription and nonprescription (over-the-counter) medicines you are taking, as well as any products such as vitamins, minerals, or other dietary supplements. You should bring this list with you each time you visit a doctor or if you are admitted to a hospital. It is also important information to carry with you in case of emergencies.


All information has been provided courtesy of MedLinePlus from the National Library of Medicine and from the FDA.