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All about: abacavir and lamivudine

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Generic Name: abacavir and lamivudine (a BAK a veer and la MIV yoo deen)
Brand Names: Epzicom

What is abacavir and lamivudine?

Abacavir and lamivudine is an antiviral medication. It is in a group of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) medicines called reverse transcriptase inhibitors. Abacavir and lamivudine helps keep the HIV virus from reproducing in the body.

Abacavir and lamivudine is used to treat HIV, which causes the acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS). Abacavir and lamivudine is not a cure for HIV or AIDS.

Abacavir and lamivudine may also be used for purposes other than those listed in this medication guide. This medication should not be given to children under 18 years old.

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

Stop using this medication and call your doctor at once if you have any of these signs of an allergic reaction: fever; rash; nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, stomach pain; general tiredness, body aches; shortness of breath, cough, sore throat. Once you have had an allergic reaction to abacavir and lamivudine, you must never use it again.

Read the Warning Card that comes with this medication, and carry it with you at all times so you will know the symptoms of allergic reaction to watch for.

Do not allow this medicine to run out completely before you get your prescription refilled. If you miss several doses, you could have a dangerous or even fatal allergic reaction when you start taking the medicine again. If you stop taking abacavir and lamivudine for any reason, talk to your doctor before you start taking the medication again.

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

Do not take this medicine if you have ever had an allergic reaction to abacavir. Tell your doctor if you have had an allergic reaction to any medicine that contains abacavir, such as Combivir, Trizivir, or Ziagen. Once you have had an allergic reaction to abacavir and lamivudine, you must never use it again. This medication 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. Contact 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.

Your name may need to be listed on an abacavir patient registry when you start using this medication.

Before taking abacavir and lamivudine, tell your doctor if you have kidney or liver disease, including hepatitis. You may not be able to use this medication or you may need a dosage adjustment or special tests during treatment. 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. Take all of your HIV medicines as directed to control your infection while you are pregnant. You should not breast-feed while you are using abacavir. 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.

How should I take abacavir and lamivudine?

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 instructions on your prescription label.

You may take abacavir and lamivudine with or without food.

Measure the liquid form of this medicine 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.

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.

This medicine comes with a Medication Guide and a Warning Card that lists the symptoms of an allergic reaction. Read this information carefully and carry the Warning Card with you at all times so you will know what symptoms to watch for. 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.

What happens if I miss a dose?

Take the missed dose as soon as you remember. If it is almost time for your next dose, skip the missed dose and take the medicine at the next regularly scheduled time. Do not take extra medicine to make up the missed dose.

Do not allow this medicine to run out completely before you get your prescription refilled. It is important that you not stop taking the medicine once you have started. If you miss several doses, you may have a dangerous or even fatal allergic reaction once you start taking abacavir again. If you stop taking abacavir and lamivudine for any reason, talk to your doctor before you start taking the medication again.

What happens if I overdose?

Seek emergency medical attention if you think you have used too much of this medicine. The symptoms of an abacavir and lamivudine overdose are not known.

What should I avoid while taking abacavir and lamivudine?

Avoid having unprotected sex or sharing needles, razors, or toothbrushes. Taking this medication will not keep you from passing HIV to other people. Talk with your doctor about safe methods of preventing HIV transmission during sex, such as using a condom and spermicide. Sharing drug or medicine needles is never safe, even for a healthy person.

Abacavir and lamivudine side effects

Stop using this medication and call your doctor at once if you have any of these signs of an allergic reaction to abacavir:
  • Group 1 - fever;

  • Group 2 - rash;

  • Group 3 - nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, stomach pain;

  • Group 4 - general tiredness, body aches;

  • Group 5 - shortness of breath, cough, sore throat.

Once you have had an allergic reaction to abacavir, you must never use it again. If you stop taking abacavir and lamivudine for any reason, talk to your doctor before you start taking the medication again.

Other serious side effects that may not be signs of an allergic reaction include:

  • stomach pain, low fever, lost appetite, dark urine, clay-colored stools, jaundice (yellowing of the skin or eyes);

  • muscle pain or weakness, numb or tingly feeling, and nausea with vomiting;

  • fever, chills, body aches, flu symptoms; or

  • white patches or sores inside your mouth or on your lips.

Less serious side effects include:

  • changes in the shape or location of body fat (especially in your arms, legs, face, neck, breasts, and trunk);

  • sleep problems or strange dreams;

  • headache, depression, anxiety; or

  • mild diarrhea.

This list is not complete, and other side effects may occur. Tell your doctor about any unusual or bothersome side effects.

What other drugs will affect abacavir and lamivudine?

Before taking this medication, tell your doctor if you are using any of the following drugs:

  • methadone (Methadose, Dolophine);

  • ribavirin (Copegus, Rebetron, Virazole);

  • interferon (Rebetron, Roferon, Intron, Alferon, Infergen, Avonex, Rebif, Betaseron, Actimune);

  • zalcitabine (ddC, Hivid);

  • lamivudine (3TC, Epivir);

  • abacavir (Ziagen);

  • lamivudine and zidovudine (Combivir); or

  • abacavir, lamivudine, and zidovudine (Trizivir).

If you are using any of these drugs, you may not be able to take abacavir and lamivudine, or you may need dosage adjustments or special monitoring during treatment.

This list is not complete and there may be other drugs that can affect abacavir and lamivudine. Tell your doctor about all the prescription and over-the-counter medications you use. This includes vitamins, minerals, herbal products, and drugs prescribed by other doctors. Do not start using a new medication without telling your doctor.

Where can I get more information?

  • Your 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.
Copyright 1996-2006 Cerner Multum, Inc. Version: 1.05. Revision Date: 08/13/2007 3:27:18 PM.

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