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What should I discuss with my healthcare provider before taking lamivudine (Epivir, Epivir HBV)?
You should not take lamivudine if you are also taking Combivir (lamivudine/zidovudine), or if you have ever had an allergic reaction to a medicine containing lamivudine, including Combivir, Epzicom, or Trizivir.
Before taking lamivudine, tell your doctor if you are allergic to any drugs, or if you have:
If you have any of the conditions listed above, you may need a dose adjustment or special tests to safely take this medication.
Lamivudine may cause lactic acidosis (the build up of lactic acid in the body). Lactic acidosis symptoms can start slowly and gradually get worse. Symptoms include unusual muscle pain and weakness, trouble breathing, fast or uneven heart rate, nausea, vomiting, stomach pain, and numbness or cold feeling in your arms or legs. Call your doctor at once if you have any of these symptoms, even if they are only mild. Early signs of lactic acidosis generally get worse over time and this condition can be fatal.
Lamivudine can also cause severe or life-threatening effects on your liver or pancreas. Call your doctor at once if you have any of these symptoms while taking lamivudine: severe pain in your upper stomach spreading to your back, fast heart rate, nausea and vomiting, diarrhea, loss of appetite, low fever, dark urine, clay-colored stools, or jaundice (yellowing of the skin or eyes).
FDA pregnancy category C. This medication may be harmful to an unborn baby. Tell your doctor if you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant during treatment. HIV can be passed to the baby if the mother is not properly treated during pregnancy. Lamivudine may also be more likely to cause pancreatitis in a pregnant woman. Tell your doctor if you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant during treatment. Take all of your HIV medicines as directed to control your infection while you are pregnant.
Your name may need to be listed on an antiviral pregnancy registry when you start using lamivudine. The purpose of this registry is to track the outcome of the pregnancy and delivery to evaluate whether lamivudine had any effect on the baby.
You should not breast-feed while you are using lamivudine. Women with HIV or AIDS should not breast-feed at all. Even if your baby is born without HIV, you may still pass the virus to the baby in your breast milk.
If you have diabetes, you should know that the liquid forms of lamivudine contain 3 to 4 grams of sucrose (sugar) per dose.
How should I take lamivudine (Epivir, Epivir HBV)?
Take this medication exactly as it was prescribed for you. Do not take the medication in larger amounts, or take it for longer than recommended by your doctor. Follow the directions on your prescription label.
Lamivudine can be taken with or without food.
You may need to break a lamivudine tablet in half when giving this medication to a child. Call your doctor if the child has any trouble swallowing the tablet.
Measure the liquid form of lamivudine with a special dose-measuring spoon or cup, not a regular table spoon. If you do not have a dose-measuring device, ask your pharmacist where you can get one.
Epivir tablets and liquid contain a higher dose of lamivudine than Epivir-HBV. Epivir is for treating HIV and Epivir-HBV is for treating hepatitis B. Each time you get a refill of this medication, be sure you have received the correct brand to treat your condition.
If you have hepatitis B you may develop liver symptoms after you stop taking this medication, even months after stopping. Your doctor may want to check your liver function at regular visits for several months after you stop using lamivudine. Do not miss any scheduled visits.
To be sure this medication is helping your condition and not causing harmful effects, your blood will need to be tested on a regular basis. Do not miss any scheduled appointments.
HIV/AIDS is usually treated with a combination of different drugs. To best treat your condition, use all of your medications as directed by your doctor. Be sure to read the medication guide or patient instructions provided with each of your medications. Do not change your doses or medication schedule without advice from your doctor. Every person with HIV or AIDS should remain under the care of a doctor.
Store this medication at room temperature away from moisture and heat.
You may keep the oral solution (liquid) in the refrigerator but do not let it freeze.
Report Problems to the Food and Drug Administration
You are encouraged to report negative side effects of prescription drugs to the FDA. Visit the FDA MedWatch website or call 1-800-FDA-1088.
Need help identifying pills and medications?
Resources for Staying Well
- HIV-AIDS: Myths and Facts
- Understanding The Symptoms of AIDS/HIV
- The Top 10 Myths and Misconceptions About HIV and AIDS