An Overview of Ziagen (Abacavir)
August 23, 2013
Brand Name: Ziagen
Abacavir can cause serious, life-threatening side effects. These include allergic reactions, lactic acidosis (buildup of acid in the blood), and liver problems.
People who take abacavir may have a serious allergic reaction (hypersensitivity reaction) that can cause death. Your risk of this allergic reaction is much higher if you have a gene variation called HLA-B*5701. Your health care provider can determine with a blood test if you have this gene variation. If you get a symptom from two or more of the following groups while taking abacavir, contact your health care provider right away to find out if you should stop taking abacavir.
Your pharmacist will give you a Warning Card with a list of these symptoms. Carry this Warning Card with you at all times. If you stop abacavir because of an allergic reaction, never take abacavir or any other abacavir-containing medicine again. If you take abacavir or any other abacavir-containing medicine again after you have had an allergic reaction, within hours you may get life-threatening symptoms that may include very low blood pressure or death. If you stop abacavir for any other reason, even for a few days, and you are not allergic to abacavir, talk with your health care provider before taking it again. Taking abacavir again can cause a serious allergic or life-threatening reaction, even if you never had an allergic reaction to it before. If your health care provider tells you that you can take abacavir again, start taking it when you are around medical help or people who can call a health care provider if you need one.
Contact your health care provider right away if you have any of the following symptoms that may signal lactic acidosis:
Contact your health care provider right away if you have any of the following symptoms that may signal liver problems:
Abacavir may increase the risk of heart attack (myocardial infarction).
While taking abacavir, it is important to keep all of your appointments with your health care provider.
What is abacavir?
Abacavir is a prescription medicine approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the treatment of HIV infection in adults and children 3 months of age and older. Abacavir is always used in combination with other anti-HIV medicines.
Abacavir is a type of anti-HIV medicine called a nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitor (NRTI). NRTIs work by blocking HIV reverse transcriptase, an HIV enzyme. This prevents HIV from replicating and lowers the amount of HIV in the blood.
Abacavir does not cure HIV/AIDS. It is not known if abacavir reduces the risk of passing HIV to other people.
What should I tell my health care provider before taking abacavir?
Before taking abacavir, tell your health care provider:
This article was provided by AIDSinfo. Visit the AIDSinfo website to find out more about their activities and publications.