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An Overview of Epivir (3TC, Lamivudine)

July 21, 2016

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EpivirLamivudine gxCj7Lamivudine gxEj7

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


Chemical Image

lamivudine chemical image

lamivudine
Molecular Weight: 229.2589


WARNING:

Lamivudine can cause serious, life-threatening side effects. These include lactic acidosis (buildup of lactic acid in the blood), severe liver problems, and pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas) in children at risk for pancreatitis.

Contact your health care provider right away if you have any of the following symptoms that could be signs of lactic acidosis:

  • Feeling very weak or tired.
  • Unusual (not normal) muscle pain.
  • Trouble breathing.
  • Stomach pain with nausea and vomiting.
  • Feeling cold, especially in your arms and legs.
  • Feeling dizzy or light-headed.
  • Fast or irregular heartbeat.

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

  • Dark or "tea-colored" urine.
  • Light-colored stools (bowel movements).
  • Yellowing of your skin or the whites of your eyes (jaundice).
  • Loss of appetite for several days or longer.
  • Nausea.
  • Pain, aching, or tenderness on the right side of your stomach area.

Call your healthcare provider right away if your child develops signs and symptoms of pancreatitis, including severe upper stomach-area pain, with or without nausea and vomiting.

If you have both HIV and hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection and take lamivudine, your HBV infection may get much worse (flare up) if you stop taking lamivudine. Do not stop taking lamivudine without first talking to your health care provider.

Epivir-HBV is a different type of lamivudine used to treat chronic HBV infection. You should not take Epivir-HBV if you have or may have HIV infection. Epivir-HBV does not contain an appropriate dose of lamivudine for treatment of HIV infection, and using Epivir-HBV could cause a person's HIV to become less treatable with lamivudine and some other HIV medicines.

Worsening of liver disease (sometimes resulting in death) has occurred in people infected with both HIV and hepatitis C virus (HCV) who were taking HIV medicines and were also being treated for HCV infection with interferon with or without ribavirin. If you are taking lamivudine as well as interferon with or without ribavirin and you experience new side effects, tell your health care provider.


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


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What Is Lamivudine?

Lamivudine 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. Lamivudine is always used in combination with other HIV medicines.

Lamivudine 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, NRTIs 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 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 lamivudine, don't cut down on, skip, or stop taking them unless your health care provider tells you to.

Lamivudine is also effective against hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection in combination with other drugs and may be included in the HIV regimen of a person infected with both HIV and HBV. However, if you have both HIV and HBV infection and take lamivudine, your HBV infection may get much worse (flare up) if you stop taking lamivudine. Do not stop taking lamivudine without first talking to your health care provider. For more information on the HBV-related use of lamivudine, please refer to the HBV section of the Guidelines for the Prevention and Treatment of Opportunistic Infections in HIV-Infected Adults and Adolescents.

Epivir-HBV is a different type of lamivudine approved by FDA for the treatment of chronic HBV infection in adults and children 2 years of age and older. You should not take Epivir-HBV if you have or may have HIV infection. (See the WARNING above.)


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

Before taking lamivudine, tell your health care provider:

  • If you are allergic to lamivudine or any other medicines.
  • If you have or have had liver problems, including HBV or HCV infection.
  • If you have kidney problems.
  • If you have diabetes. Each 15-mL dose (150 mg) of lamivudine oral solution contains 3 grams of sucrose (common table sugar).
  • If you have or have had pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas). Lamivudine should be used with caution in children at risk for pancreatitis.
  • If you have any other medical conditions.
  • If you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant. Taking lamivudine during pregnancy has not been associated with an increased risk of birth defects. Talk to your health care provider about possible risks with taking lamivudine when pregnant.
  • If you are breastfeeding or plan to breastfeed. Do not breastfeed if you are infected with HIV or are taking lamivudine.
  • If you are using hormone-based birth control (such as pills, injections, or implants). For more information, view the AIDSinfo HIV and Birth Control infographic.
  • About other prescription and nonprescription medicines, vitamins, nutritional supplements, and herbal products you are taking or plan to take. Lamivudine may affect the way other medicines or products work, and other medicines or products may affect how lamivudine works. Taking lamivudine together with certain medicines or products may cause serious, life-threatening side effects.


How Should I Take Lamivudine?

Lamivudine (brand name: Epivir) comes in the following forms and strengths:

  • 150-mg tablets.
  • 300-mg tablets.
  • 10-mg/mL oral solution. An oral solution is a mixture of a medicine and a liquid that can be taken by mouth.

Take lamivudine according to your health care provider's instructions. For children 3 months and older, your healthcare provider will prescribe a dose of lamivudine based on your child's body weight.

Take lamivudine by mouth, with or without food. Tell your healthcare provider if you have trouble swallowing tablets. Lamivudine also comes as an oral solution.

Always take lamivudine in combination with other HIV medicines.

If you take too much lamivudine, contact your health care provider or local poison control center (1-800-222-1222) right away, or go to the nearest hospital emergency room.

For more information on how to take lamivudine, see the FDA drug label from DailyMed. (DailyMed is a federal website that includes the most recent drug labels submitted to FDA.)

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This article was provided by AIDSinfo. Visit the AIDSinfo website to find out more about their activities and publications.
 
See Also
More on HIV Medications
More on Epivir (3TC, Lamivudine)

 

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