Brand Name: Combivir
Other Name(s): 3TC/ZDV
Drug Class: Nucleoside Reverse Transcriptase Inhibitors
Combivir can cause serious, life-threatening side effects. These include a buildup of lactic acid in the blood (lactic acidosis), liver problems, muscle weakness (myopathy), and blood disorders such as a very low number of red blood cells (severe anemia) or lower than normal number of white blood cells (neutropenia).
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
- Pain in the right side of your 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 (very low number of red blood cells) or neutropenia (lower than normal number of white blood cells). Keep all appointments to have your blood count checked while you're taking Combivir.
Some people infected with both HIV and hepatitis B virus (HBV) have had a worsening of their HBV infection after stopping lamivudine, one of the two HIV medicines contained in Combivir. Talk to your health care provider about any changes to your HIV regimen.
Worsening of liver disease (sometimes resulting in death) has occurred in people who have both HIV and hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection and who are taking HIV medicines and are also being treated for HCV with interferon with or without ribavirin. If you are taking Combivir as well as interferon with or without ribavirin and you experience new side effects, tell your health care provider.
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 66 lb (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 NRTIs 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 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 have HIV or are taking Combivir.
- If you are using hormone-based birth control (such as pills, implants, or vaginal rings). For more information about using birth control and HIV medicines at the same time, view the AIDS_info_ HIV and Birth Control infographic.
- 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, life-threatening side effects.
How Should I Take Combivir?
Combivir comes in tablet form. Each tablet contains:
- 150 mg lamivudine (brand name: Epivir).
- 300 mg zidovudine (brand name: Retrovir).
Take Combivir according to your health care provider's instructions.
Take Combivir with or without food.
Always take Combivir in combination with other HIV medicines.
If you take too much Combivir, 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 Combivir, see the FDA drug label from DailyMed. (DailyMed is a federal website that includes the most recent drug labels submitted to FDA.)
What Should I Do if I Forget a Dose?
If you miss a dose of Combivir, take the missed dose as soon as you remember it. But if it is almost time for your next dose, skip the missed dose and just take your next dose at the regular time. Do not take two doses at the same time to make up for a missed dose.
What Side Effects Can Combivir Cause?
Combivir may cause side effects. Many side effects from HIV medicines, such as nausea or occasional dizziness, are manageable. See the AIDS_info_ fact sheet on HIV Medicines and Side Effects for more information.
Some side effects of Combivir can be serious. Serious side effects of Combivir include a buildup of lactic acid in the blood (lactic acidosis), liver problems, muscle weakness (myopathy), and blood disorders such as a very low number of red blood cells (severe anemia) or lower than normal number of white blood cells (neutropenia). (See the WARNING box above.)
Other possible side effects of Combivir include:
- Changes in your immune system (called immune reconstitution inflammatory syndrome or IRIS). IRIS is a condition that sometimes occurs when the immune system begins to recover after treatment with an HIV medicine. As the immune system gets stronger, it may have an increased response to a previously hidden infection.
- Changes in body fat (including gain or loss of fat).
- Inflammation of the pancreas (pancreatitis).
Tell your health care provider if you have any side effect that bothers you or that does not go away.
These are not all the possible side effects of Combivir. To learn more about possible side effects of Combivir, read the drug label or package insert or talk to your health care provider or pharmacist.
You can report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088 (1-800-332-1088) or online at www.accessdata.fda.gov/scripts/medwatch/.
How Should Combivir Be Stored?
- Store Combivir between 36°F and 86°F (2°C to 30°C).
- Do not use Combivir if the original seal over the container opening is broken or missing.
- Throw away Combivir that is no longer needed or expired (out of date). Follow FDA guidelines on how to safely dispose of unused medicine.
- Keep Combivir and all medicines out of reach of children.
Where Can I Find More Information About Combivir?
More information about Combivir is available:
Main number: 877-844-8872
Patient assistance (ViiV Connect): 844-588-3288
The above Patient Version drug summary is based on the following FDA label(s): Tablet.
[Note from TheBody.com: This article was created by AIDSinfo, who last updated it on Oct. 9, 2017. We have cross-posted it with their permission.]