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lamivudine (cont.)

What should I discuss with my healthcare provider before taking lamivudine (Epivir, Epivir HBV)?

You should not take lamivudine if you are allergic to it.

The Epivir brand of lamivudine (for treating HIV) should not be taken together with any HIV combination medicine that contains lamivudine or emtricitabine. This includes:

The Epivir-HBV brand of lamivudine (for treating hepatitis B) should not be taken together with any other medication that contains lamivudine, which includes:

  • Combivir (lamivudine and zidovudine);
  • Epivir (lamivudine) for treating HIV;
  • Epzicom (abacavir and lamivudine); and
  • Trizivir (abacavir, lamivudine, and zidovudine).

To make sure you can safely take lamivudine, tell your doctor if you have any of these other conditions:

  • liver disease (especially hepatitis B if you also have HIV);
  • kidney disease;
  • a history of pancreatitis; or
  • if you have used a medicine similar to lamivudine in the past, such as abacavir (Ziagen), didanosine (Videx), emtricitabine (Atripla, Complera, Emtriva, Truvada), stavudine (Zerit), tenofovir (Viread), zalcitabine (Hivid), or zidovudine (Retrovir).

Some people develop a life-threatening condition called lactic acidosis while taking lamivudine. You may be more likely to develop lactic acidosis if you are overweight or have liver disease, if you are a woman, or if you have taken HIV or AIDS medications for a long time. Talk with your doctor about your individual risk.

FDA pregnancy category C. It is not known whether lamivudine will harm an unborn baby. HIV can be passed to your baby if you are not properly treated during pregnancy. 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.

Lamivudine can pass into breast milk and may harm a nursing baby. You should not breast-feed while you are using lamivudine to treat hepatitis B. Women with HIV or AIDS should not breast feed a baby. Even if your baby is born without HIV, the virus may be passed to the baby in your breast milk.

If you are pregnant, your name may be listed on a pregnancy registry. This is to track the outcome of the pregnancy and to evaluate any effects of lamivudine on the baby.

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 exactly as prescribed by your doctor. Do not take in larger or smaller amounts or for longer than recommended. Follow the directions on your prescription label. You should not take Epivir (for treating HIV) together with Epivir-HBV (for treating hepatitis B).

Lamivudine can be taken with or without food.

You may need to break an Epivir tablet in half when giving this medication to a child for HIV. Call your doctor if the child has any trouble swallowing the tablet.

Measure liquid medicine with a special dose-measuring spoon or medicine cup, not with a regular table spoon. If you do not have a dose-measuring device, ask your pharmacist for one.

The Epivir brand contains a higher dose of lamivudine than Epivir-HBV brand. 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 for several months after you stop using lamivudine. Visit your doctor regularly.

To be sure this medicine is helping your condition and is not causing harmful effects, your blood will need to be tested often. Your liver and kidney function may also need to be tested. Visit your doctor regularly.

HIV/AIDS is usually treated with a combination of drugs. Use all medications as directed by your doctor. Read the medication guide or patient instructions provided with each medication. Do not change your doses or medication schedule without your doctor's advice. Every person with HIV or AIDS should remain under the care of a doctor.

Store at room temperature away from moisture and heat. Do not allow the liquid form of this medicine to freeze. Keep the bottle tightly closed when not in use.

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.

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