Ziagen

Generic Name: Abacavir sulfate

  • What is Ziagen?

    Ziagen is nucleoside analogue reverse transcriptase inhibitor (NRTI) used to treat HIV infection. It is always used in combination with other anti-HIV medicines to help lower the amount of the virus found in the blood. This helps to keep your immune system as healthy as possible so that it can help fight infection.
  • What is the most important information I should know about Ziagen?

    Ziagen is not a cure for HIV infection and you may continue to experience illnesses associated with HIV infection, including opportunistic infections. It has not been shown to reduce the risk of transmission of HIV to others through sexual contact or blood contamination.

    Serious and sometimes fatal allergic reactions have been associated with Ziagen, characterized by fever, rash, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, or abdominal pain, generalized malaise, fatigue, or achiness, and shortness of breath, cough, or sore throat.

    Prior to starting Ziagen, your doctor may want to take a series of blood tests to determine if you have a genetic component known as HLA B*5701 allele. There is an increased risk for experiencing a potentially fatal reaction to Ziagen if you carry the HLA-B*5701 allele.

    As soon as an allergic reaction is suspected, discontinue the use of the medication and do not reuse or use other HIV medication that contains abacavir.

    Other reported effects of this medication are lactic acidosis and severe enlarged, fatty liver, including fatal cases, and an inflammatory disease in response to certain bacterial infections with combination antiretroviral therapy within a few weeks to months after initiating therapy

    Redistribution/accumulation of body fat (including central obesity and fat accumulation of the back known as a "buffalo hump"), peripheral and facial wasting, and breast enlargement have been observed in patients receiving antiretroviral therapy.

  • Who should not take Ziagen?

    Do not take Ziagen if you are allergic to any of its components or medications that contain abacavir (such as Trizivir and Epzicom) or if you have moderate-to-severe liver impairment.
  • What should I tell my doctor before I take the first dose of Ziagen?

    Tell your doctor about all your health conditions and all the medicines you take, including prescription and over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, supplements, and herbals. Be sure to tell your doctor if you have had an allergic reaction to this medication or other medications, if you smoke, have liver or cardiovascular problems, or have other chronic conditions that increase your risk of diabetes, high cholesterol, or high blood pressure
  • 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 ≥18 years: The usual dose is 600 milligrams (mg) daily, administered as either 300 mg twice daily or 600 mg once daily.

    Children ≥3 months to older adolescents: The dose should be calculated on body weight (kg) and should not exceed 300 mg twice daily.

    Patients with liver impairment: The adjusted dose for this population is 200 mg twice daily.

  • How should I take Ziagen?

    Take this medication by mouth exactly as your doctor prescribes it. The usual dose is 1 tablet twice a day or 2 tablets once a day with or without food.
  • What should I avoid while taking Ziagen?

    Avoid skipping or missing doses, because if you stop your anti-HIV drugs, even for a short time, the amount of virus in your blood may increase and the virus may become harder to treat.

    Do not take this medication with other abacavir containing products such as Epzicom or Trizivir

    Avoid activities that can spread HIV infection, as Ziagen does not stop you from passing the virus to others. Do not share needles or other injection equipment, do not share personal items that can have blood or body fluids on them, and do not have any kind of sex without protection.

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

    If Ziagen is taken with certain other drugs, the effects of either could be increased, decreased, or altered. It is especially important to check with your doctor before combining Ziagen with other medications including the following: abacavir-containing drugs (Epzicom or Trizivir), alcohol, methadone.
  • What are the possible side effects of Ziagen?

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

    Side effects may include: Nausea, headache, fatigue, vomiting, sleep/dream disturbances, chills, ear/nose/throat infections, rash, mood changes, muscle pain, and changes in your immune system and body fat

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

    There have been no adequate trials to determine Ziagen's safety in pregnancy and breastfeeding. Taking this medication during pregnancy or breastfeeding should be discussed with you doctor to determine if benefits outweighs the risks. It is recommended to not breastfeed while using Ziagen.
  • What should I do if I miss a dose of Ziagen?

    It is important not to run out of this medication or skip doses. If you miss a dose, take the missed dose right away. Then take the next dose at the usual time. Do not take 2 doses at once.
  • How should I store Ziagen?

    Ziagen should be stored in room temperature away from light.