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abacavir and lamivudine (Epzicom)

Brand Names: Epzicom

Generic Name: abacavir and lamivudine

What is abacavir and lamivudine (Epzicom)?

Abacavir and lamivudine are antiviral medicines that prevent human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) from multiplying in your body.

Abacavir and lamivudine is a combination medicine used to treat HIV, which can cause the acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS). This medication is not a cure for HIV or AIDS.

Abacavir and lamivudine may also be used for purposes not listed in this medication guide.

What are the possible side effects of abacavir and lamivudine (Epzicom)?

Stop using this medicine and call your doctor at once if you have symptoms of an allergic reaction from two or more of these specific side effect groups:

Once you have an allergic reaction to abacavir, you must never use it again. If you stop taking this medicine for any reason, talk to your doctor before you start taking it again.

Abacavir and lamivudine can also cause serious or fatal side effects on the liver. Call your doctor at once if you have:

  • swelling around your midsection, right-sided upper stomach pain, loss of appetite, dark urine, clay-colored stools, jaundice (yellowing of the skin or eyes).

Mild symptoms of lactic acidosis may worsen over time, and this condition can be fatal. Get emergency medical help if you have: unusual muscle pain, trouble breathing, stomach pain, vomiting, irregular heart rate, dizziness, feeling cold, or feeling very weak or tired.

Abacavir and lamivudine affects your immune system, which may cause certain side effects (even weeks or months after you've taken this medicine). Tell your doctor if you have:

  • signs of a new infection--fever, night sweats, swollen glands, cold sores, cough, wheezing, diarrhea, weight loss;
  • trouble speaking or swallowing, problems with balance or eye movement, weakness or prickly feeling; or
  • swelling in your neck or throat (enlarged thyroid), menstrual changes, impotence.

Common side effects include:

  • sleep problems (insomnia);
  • headache, dizziness, tiredness, depression;
  • fever, rash;
  • nausea, diarrhea; or
  • changes in the shape or location of body fat (especially in your arms, legs, face, neck, breasts, and trunk).

This is not a complete list of side effects and others may occur. Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.

What is the most important information I should know about abacavir and lamivudine (Epzicom)?

You should not take this medicine if you have liver disease, or if you have ever tested positive for a gene variation called HLA-B*5701. Do not take this medicine if you have ever had an allergic reaction to any medicine that contains abacavir or lamivudine.

Stop taking abacavir and lamivudine and call your doctor at once if you have signs of an allergic reaction: fever; rash; nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, stomach pain; general ill feeling, extreme tiredness, body aches; shortness of breath, cough, sore throat.

If you've ever had hepatitis B, it may become active or get worse after you stop using abacavir and lamivudine. You may need frequent liver function tests for several months.

What should I discuss with my healthcare provider before taking abacavir and lamivudine (Epzicom)?

You should not use this medicine if you are allergic to abacavir or lamivudine, or:

Once you have had an allergic reaction to abacavir, you must never use it again.

You may develop lactic acidosis, a dangerous build-up of lactic acid in your blood. This may be more likely if you have other medical conditions, if you've taken HIV medication for a long time, or if you are a woman. Ask your doctor about your risk.

Tell your doctor if you have ever had:

You may need a blood test before you start taking abacavir and lamivudine for the first time, or if you are restarting the medicine after stopping for reasons not related to an allergic reaction.

Tell your doctor if you are pregnant, and use your medications properly to control your infection. HIV can be passed to your baby if the virus is not controlled during pregnancy. Your name may be listed on a registry to track any effects of antiviral medicine on the baby.

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.

Abacavir and lamivudine should not be given to a child who weighs less than 55 pounds.

How should I take abacavir and lamivudine (Epzicom)?

Follow all directions on your prescription label and read all medication guides or instruction sheets. Use the medicine exactly as directed.

Abacavir and lamivudine may be taken with or without food. Tell the doctor if a child taking this medicine has trouble swallowing the tablet.

Abacavir and lamivudine comes with a Medication Guide and a Warning Card listing symptoms of an allergic reaction. Read this information and learn what symptoms to watch for. Keep the Wallet Card with you at all times.

Use all HIV medications as directed and read all medication guides you receive. Do not change your dose or dosing schedule without your doctor's advice. Every person with HIV should remain under the care of a doctor.

Store at room temperature away from moisture and heat.

If you've ever had hepatitis B, this virus may become active or get worse in the months after you stop using abacavir and lamivudine. You may need frequent liver function tests while using this medicine and for several months after your last dose.

What happens if I miss a dose (Epzicom)?

Take the medicine as soon as you can, but skip the missed dose if it is almost time for your next dose. Do not take two doses at one time.

Get your prescription refilled before you run out of medicine completely. If you miss several doses, you may have a dangerous or even fatal allergic reaction once you start taking this medication again.

What happens if I overdose (Epzicom)?

Seek emergency medical attention or call the Poison Help line at 1-800-222-1222.

What should I avoid while taking abacavir and lamivudine (Epzicom)?

Avoid drinking alcohol. It may increase your risk of liver damage or lactic acidosis.

Taking this medicine will not prevent you from passing HIV to other people. Do not have unprotected sex or share razors or toothbrushes. Talk with your doctor about safe ways to prevent HIV transmission during sex. Sharing drug or medicine needles is never safe, even for a healthy person.

What other drugs will affect abacavir and lamivudine (Epzicom)?

Tell your doctor about all your other medicines, especially:

  • hepatitis medication such as interferon or ribavirin;
  • methadone; or
  • any other HIV medicines.

This list is not complete. Other drugs may affect abacavir and lamivudine, including prescription and over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, and herbal products. Not all possible drug interactions are listed here.

Where can I get more information (Epzicom)?

Your doctor or pharmacist can provide more information about abacavir and lamivudine.


Remember, keep this and all other medicines out of the reach of children, never share your medicines with others, and use this medication only for the indication prescribed.
Every effort has been made to ensure that the information provided by Cerner Multum, Inc. ('Multum') is accurate, up-to-date, and complete, but no guarantee is made to that effect. Drug information contained herein may be time sensitive. Multum information has been compiled for use by healthcare practitioners and consumers in the United States and therefore Multum does not warrant that uses outside of the United States are appropriate, unless specifically indicated otherwise. Multum's drug information does not endorse drugs, diagnose patients or recommend therapy. Multum's drug information is an informational resource designed to assist licensed healthcare practitioners in caring for their patients and/or to serve consumers viewing this service as a supplement to, and not a substitute for, the expertise, skill, knowledge and judgment of healthcare practitioners. The absence of a warning for a given drug or drug combination in no way should be construed to indicate that the drug or drug combination is safe, effective or appropriate for any given patient. Multum does not assume any responsibility for any aspect of healthcare administered with the aid of information Multum provides. The information contained herein is not intended to cover all possible uses, directions, precautions, warnings, drug interactions, allergic reactions, or adverse effects. If you have questions about the drugs you are taking, check with your doctor, nurse or pharmacist.

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