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An Overview of Combivir (AZT/3TC)

April 17, 2015

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Combivir

Brand Name: Combivir
Other Name(s): 3TC/ZDV
Drug Class: Nucleoside Reverse Transcriptase Inhibitors
Approved Use: Treatment of HIV Infection


Chemical Images

lamivudine chemical image

lamivudine
Molecular Weight: 229.2589

zidovudine chemical image

zidovudine
Molecular Weight: 267.2437


WARNING:

Combivir can cause serious, life-threatening side effects. These include lactic acidosis (a buildup of lactic acid in the blood), liver problems, muscle weakness (myopathy), and blood disorders such as severe anemia (extremely reduced numbers of red blood cells) or neutropenia (reduced numbers of white blood cells).

Contact your health care provider right away if you have any of the following symptoms that could be signs of lactic acidosis:
  • Weakness or tiredness.
  • Unusual (not normal) muscle pain.
  • Trouble breathing.
  • Stomach pain with nausea and vomiting.
  • Feeling cold, especially in your arms and legs.
  • Dizziness or lightheadedness.
  • Fast or irregular heartbeat.

Contact your health care provider if you have any of the following symptoms that could be signs of serious liver problems:

  • Yellowing of your skin or the whites of your eyes (jaundice).
  • Dark-colored urine.
  • Light-colored bowel movements.
  • Loss of appetite for several days or longer.
  • Nausea.
  • Pain in the stomach area (abdominal pain).

Contact your health care provider right away if you have muscle weakness.

Combivir can cause blood disorders such as severe anemia (extremely reduced numbers of red blood cells) or neutropenia (reduced numbers of white blood cells). Your health care provider may follow your blood count closely while you are taking Combivir.

Combivir is not approved for the treatment of hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection. If you have both HIV and HBV infection and take Combivir, your HBV infection may get worse (flare up) if you stop taking Combivir.

While taking Combivir, it is important to keep all of your appointments with your health care provider.


What Is Combivir?

Combivir is a prescription medicine approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the treatment of HIV infection in adults and children weighing more than 30 kg. Combivir is always used in combination with other HIV medicines.

Combivir contains the following two different medicines combined in one pill:

  • Lamivudine -- an HIV medicine called a nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitor (NRTI).
  • Zidovudine -- another HIV medicine (also an NRTI).

Combivir belongs to a class (group) of HIV drugs called nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors (NRTIs). NRTIs block an HIV enzyme called reverse transcriptase. (An enzyme is a protein that starts or increases the speed of a chemical reaction.) By blocking reverse transcriptase, the two drugs in Combivir prevent HIV from multiplying and can reduce the amount of HIV in the body.

HIV medicines can't cure HIV/AIDS, but taking a combination of HIV medicines (called an HIV treatment regimen) every day helps people with HIV live longer, healthier lives. HIV medicines also reduce the risk of HIV transmission.

If you are taking HIV medicines, including Combivir, don't cut down on, skip, or stop taking them unless your health care provider tells you to.


What Should I Tell My Health Care Provider Before Taking Combivir?

Before taking Combivir, tell your health care provider:

  • If you are allergic to either of the medicines in Combivir (lamivudine or zidovudine) or any other medicines.
  • If you have or have ever had any blood disorders, such as anemia or bone marrow problems.
  • If you have or have ever had any muscle disorder, such as myopathy (muscle weakness).
  • If you have or have ever had kidney problems.
  • If you have or have ever had liver problems, such as HBV or hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection.
  • If you have any other medical conditions.
  • If you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant. Whether Combivir can harm an unborn baby is unknown. Combivir should be used during pregnancy only if the potential benefit justifies the potential risk to the fetus. Talk to your health care provider about possible risks with taking Combivir when pregnant.
  • If you are breastfeeding or plan to breastfeed. Do not breastfeed if you are infected with HIV or are taking Combivir.
  • About other prescription and nonprescription medicines, vitamins, nutritional supplements, and herbal products you are taking or plan to take. Combivir may affect the way other medicines or products work, and other medicines or products may affect how Combivir works. Taking Combivir together with certain medicines or products may cause serious and/or life-threatening side effects.
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This article was provided by AIDSinfo. Visit the AIDSinfo website to find out more about their activities and publications.
 

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