Epivir

Generic Name: Lamivudine

  • What is Epivir?

    Epivir is used to treat human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection. The drug is taken along with zidovudine, another HIV medication.
  • What is the most important information I should know about Epivir?

    The Epivir/zidovudine combination does not completely eliminate HIV or totally restore the immune system. There is still a danger of serious infections; see your doctor regularly for monitoring and tests.

    Epivir does not stop the spread of HIV to others through blood or sexual contact. Use barrier methods of birth control (eg, condoms) if you have HIV infection. Do not share needles, injection supplies, or items like toothbrushes or razors.

    Epivir can cause an enlarged liver and the chemical imbalance known as lactic acidosis. This serious and sometimes fatal side effect is more likely in women, people who are overweight, and those who have been taking drugs such as Epivir for an extended period of time. Signs of lactic acidosis include fatigue, nausea, abdominal pain, and a feeling of unwellness. Contact your doctor if you experience any of these symptoms. Treatment with Epivir may have to be discontinued.

    Some people receiving drugs for HIV experience a redistribution of body fat, leading to extra fat around the middle, a hump on the back, and wasting in the arms, legs, and face. Researchers don't know whether this represents a long-term health problem or not.

    Do not drive or perform other possibly unsafe tasks until you know how you react to Epivir; this medication may cause drowsiness or dizziness. These effects may be worse if you take it with alcohol or certain medicines.

    Do not stop taking Epivir, even for a short period of time. If you do, the virus may grow resistant to the medicine and become harder to treat.

    If you have the hepatitis B virus, your doctor will perform lab tests for several months after you stop taking Epivir. Some patients have experienced a worsening of the hepatitis B virus after stopping the use of Epivir. Tell your doctor about any new or unusual symptoms that you notice after stopping treatment with this medication.

    Epivir contains sucrose and may affect your blood sugar. Check blood sugar levels closely. Ask your doctor before you change the dose of your diabetes medicine.

  • Who should not take Epivir?

    Do not use Epivir if you are hypersensitive to Epivir or any of its ingredients.
  • What should I tell my doctor before I take the first dose of Epivir?

    Tell your doctor about all prescription, over-the-counter, and herbal medication you are taking before beginning treatment with this drug. Also, talk to your doctor about your complete medical history, especially if you have a history of hepatitis B or liver problems, muscle problems, an abnormal blood cell count, kidney problems, diabetes, lactic acidosis, a nerve disorders, or pancreatitis.
  • What is the usual dosage?

    The information below is based on the dosage guidelines your doctor uses. Depending on your condition and medical history, your doctor may prescribe a different regimen. Do not change the dosage or stop taking your medication without your doctor's approval.

    Adults: The usual dose (either tablets or liquid) is 150 milligrams (mg) twice daily or 300 mg once a day. Your doctor may adjust the dosage if you have kidney problems or weigh less than 110 pounds.

    Children 3 months to 16 years: The usual dose is 4 milligrams per 2.2 pounds of body weight twice a day, up to a maximum of 150 mg twice daily. The safety of Epivir in combination with antiretroviral drugs other than zidovudine has not been established in children.

    DOSE ADJUSTMENT: It is recommended that the dose of Epivir be adjusted in accordance with a patient's kidney function. Tell your doctor if you have a history of kidney disease or problems with your kidneys so that the dose of this medication may be adjusted.

  • How should I take Epivir?

    It's important to keep adequate levels of Epivir in your bloodstream at all times, so you need to keep taking this medication regularly, just as prescribed, even when you're feeling better. Epivir may be taken with or without food. Take Epivir at the same time each day.
  • What should I avoid while taking Epivir?

    Do not drive or perform other possibly unsafe tasks until you know how you react to Epivir; this medication may cause drowsiness or dizziness. These effects may be worse if you take it with alcohol or certain medicines.

    Do not stop taking Epivir, even for a short period of time. If you do, the virus may grow resistant to the medicine and become harder to treat.

    Do not share needles, injection supplies, or items like toothbrushes or razors. Use barrier methods of birth control (eg, condoms) if you have HIV infection. Epivir does not stop the spread of HIV to others through blood or sexual contact.

  • What are possible food and drug interactions associated with Epivir?

    Combining Epivir with the HIV drug zalcitabine is not recommended. Check with your doctor before combining Epivir with sulfamethoxazole and trimethoprim.
  • What are the possible side effects of Epivir?

    Side effects cannot be anticipated. If any develop or change in intensity, inform your doctor as soon as possible. Only your doctor can determine if it is safe for you to continue taking Epivir.

    Side effects may include: abdominal cramps and pains, allergic reaction, anemia, chills, cough, depression, diarrhea, dizziness, enlarged lymph nodes, enlarged spleen, fatigue, fever, general feeling of illness, hair loss, headache, hives, insomnia and other sleep problems, itching, joint pain, liver damage, lost appetite, mouth sores, muscle and bone pain, muscle weakness or wasting, nasal problems, nausea, pancreatitis, prickling or tingling sensation, skin rashes, stomach upset, vomiting, weakness, wheezing

    Side effects in children may include: abnormal breathing sounds/wheezing; cough; diarrhea; ear problems; fever; mouth inflammation; nasal discharge; nausea; stuffy nose; swollen lymph nodes; vomiting

    Epivir can cause an enlarged liver and the chemical imbalance known as lactic acidosis. This serious and sometimes fatal side effect is more likely in women, people who are overweight, and those who have been taking drugs such as Epivir for an extended period. Signs of lactic acidosis include fatigue, nausea, abdominal pain, and a feeling of unwellness. Contact your doctor if you experience any of these symptoms. Treatment with Epivir may have to be discontinued.

  • Can I receive Epivir if I am pregnant or breastfeeding?

    The effects of Epivir during pregnancy have not been adequately studied, but there is reason to suspect some risk. If you are pregnant, plan to become pregnant, or are breastfeeding notify your doctor immediately. Mothers infected with HIV who are currently on Epivir should not breastfeed due to the risk of passing the HIV infection or the drug to the baby.
  • What should I do if I miss a dose of Epivir?

    If you miss a dose of Epivir, take it as soon as possible. If it is within 2 hours of your next dose, skip the missed dose and go back to your regular dosing schedule. Do not take 2 doses at once.
  • How should I store Epivir?

    Store Epivir at 77 degrees F (25 degrees C). Brief storage at temperatures between 59 and 86 degrees F (15 and 30 degrees C) is permitted. Store away from heat, moisture, and light. Do not store in the bathroom. Keep Epivir out of the reach of children.