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Lamivudine

Pronunciation

Generic Name: lamivudine (la-MIV-ue-deen)
Brand Name: Epivir

Lamivudine may cause severe and sometimes fatal liver problems or high blood acid levels (lactic acidosis). Contact your doctor right away if you develop yellowing of the skin or eyes; dark urine; pale stools; stomach pain; nausea; vomiting; diarrhea; persistent loss of appetite; fast or difficult breathing; slow or irregular heartbeat; unusual weakness or tiredness; muscle pain or tenderness; unusual feeling of cold (eg, in arms or legs); or unusual drowsiness, dizziness, or lightheadedness.

Some patients with both hepatitis B virus (HBV) and HIV infection who took lamivudine experienced severe worsening of HBV infection after they stopped it. Patients who have both HBV and HIV infection need close medical follow-up to check for worsening liver problems for at least several months after they stop lamivudine. Keep all doctor and lab appointments. Do not stop taking lamivudine without checking with your doctor.

Lamivudine contains a higher dose of the same ingredient found in Epivir-HBV. Do not switch between Epivir and Epivir-HBV without checking with your doctor. Epivir-HBV does not contain the correct amount of medicine to treat HIV infection.


Lamivudine is used for:

Treating HIV infection in combination with other medicines.

Lamivudine is a nucleoside analogue. It works by blocking the growth of HIV.

Do NOT use lamivudine if:

  • you are allergic to any ingredient in lamivudine
  • you have an enlarged liver, abnormal liver function tests, or high levels of lactic acid in the blood (lactic acidosis)
  • you are taking zalcitabine, emtricitabine, or another medicine containing lamivudine

Contact your doctor or health care provider right away if any of these apply to you.

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Before using lamivudine:

Some medical conditions may interact with lamivudine. Tell your doctor or pharmacist if you have any medical conditions, especially if any of the following apply to you:

  • if you are pregnant, planning to become pregnant, or are breast-feeding
  • if you are taking any prescription or nonprescription medicine, herbal preparation, or dietary supplement
  • if you have allergies to medicines, foods, or other substances
  • if you have a history of muscle problems, pancreas problems, abnormal blood cell counts, liver disease (eg, hepatitis) or other liver problems (eg, abnormal liver function tests), kidney problems, diabetes, lactic acidosis, or a nerve disorder
  • if you are very overweight
  • if the patient is a child who has a history of pancreas problems or who has previously taken other medicine for HIV infection

Some MEDICINES MAY INTERACT with lamivudine. Tell your health care provider if you are taking any other medicines, especially any of the following:

  • Interferon alfa or ribavirin because severe liver problems may occur
  • Emtricitabine, other medicines that contain lamivudine, or trimethoprim because they may increase the risk of lamivudine's side effects
  • Zalcitabine because it may decrease lamivudine's effectiveness

This may not be a complete list of all interactions that may occur. Ask your health care provider if lamivudine may interact with other medicines that you take. Check with your health care provider before you start, stop, or change the dose of any medicine.

How to use lamivudine:

Use lamivudine as directed by your doctor. Check the label on the medicine for exact dosing instructions.

  • Take lamivudine by mouth with or without food.
  • Continue to take lamivudine even if you feel well. Do not miss any doses.
  • Taking lamivudine at the same time each day will help you remember to take it.
  • If you miss a dose of lamivudine, take it as soon as possible. If it is within 2 hours of your next dose, skip the missed dose and go back to your regular dosing schedule. Do not take 2 doses at once.

Ask your health care provider any questions you may have about how to use lamivudine.

Important safety information:

  • Lamivudine may cause drowsiness or dizziness. These effects may be worse if you take it with alcohol or certain medicines. Use lamivudine with caution. Do not drive or perform other possibly unsafe tasks until you know how you react to it.
  • When your medicine supply is low, get more from your doctor or pharmacist as soon as you can. Do not stop taking lamivudine, even for a short period of time. If you do, the virus may grow resistant to the medicine and become harder to treat.
  • Lamivudine is not a cure for HIV infection. Patients may still get illnesses and infections associated with HIV. Remain under the care of your doctor.
  • Lamivudine does not stop the spread of HIV to others through blood or sexual contact. Use barrier methods of birth control (eg, condoms) if you have HIV infection. Do not share needles, injection supplies, or items like toothbrushes or razors.
  • Lamivudine may improve immune system function. This may reveal hidden infections in some patients. Tell your doctor right away if you notice symptoms of infection (eg, fever, sore throat, weakness, cough, shortness of breath) after you start lamivudine.
  • Cases of worsening liver disease have been reported when lamivudine is stopped in patients with both HIV and HBV infection. Discuss any medicine changes with your doctor.
  • If you have HBV infection, your doctor will perform lab tests for several months after you stop taking lamivudine. Some patients have had worsening HBV after stopping use of lamivudine. Tell your doctor about any new or unusual symptoms that you notice after stopping treatment.
  • Diabetes patients - Lamivudine may affect your blood sugar. Check blood sugar levels closely. Ask your doctor before you change the dose of your diabetes medicine.
  • Changes in body fat (eg, an increased amount of fat in the upper back, neck, breast, and trunk, and loss of fat from the legs, arms, and face) may occur in some patients taking lamivudine. The cause and long-term effects of these changes are unknown. Discuss any concerns with your doctor.
  • Lab tests, including liver and kidney function tests, may be performed while you use lamivudine. These tests may be used to monitor your condition or check for side effects. Be sure to keep all doctor and lab appointments.
  • Use lamivudine with caution in the ELDERLY; they may be more sensitive to its effects.
  • Use lamivudine with caution in CHILDREN; they may be more likely to experience certain side effects, including pancreas problems, wheezing, ear pain or swelling, or swollen lymph nodes.
  • Lamivudine should be used with extreme caution in CHILDREN who are younger than 3 months old or who weigh less than 31 pounds; safety and effectiveness in these children have not been confirmed.
  • PREGNANCY and BREAST-FEEDING: If you become pregnant, contact your doctor. You will need to discuss the benefits and risks of using lamivudine while you are pregnant. Lamivudine is found in breast milk. Do not breast-feed while taking lamivudine. Mothers infected with HIV should not breast-feed. There is a risk of passing the HIV infection or lamivudine to the baby.

Possible side effects of lamivudine:

All medicines may cause side effects, but many people have no, or minor, side effects. Check with your doctor if any of these most COMMON side effects persist or become bothersome:

Cough; diarrhea; dizziness; general body discomfort; headache; loss of appetite; mild mouth pain or swelling; muscle or joint pain; nausea; runny/stuffy nose; stomach pain or cramps; tiredness; trouble sleeping; vomiting.

Seek medical attention right away if any of these SEVERE side effects occur:

Severe allergic reactions (rash; hives; itching; difficulty breathing; tightness in the chest; swelling of the mouth, face, lips, or tongue); burning, numbness, or tingling sensation; dark urine; ear pain or discharge; fever, chills, or sore throat; mental or mood changes; pale stools; persistent loss of appetite; severe or persistent muscle pain, ache, or tenderness; severe or persistent nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea; severe or persistent stomach pain or tenderness; swollen lymph nodes; symptoms of lactic acidosis (eg, fast or difficult breathing; fast, slow, or irregular heartbeat; severe or persistent weakness or tiredness; unusual drowsiness, dizziness, or lightheadedness; unusual feeling of cold in the arms or legs; wheezing); yellowing of the skin or eyes.

This is not a complete list of all side effects that may occur. If you have questions about side effects, contact your health care provider. Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. To report side effects to the appropriate agency, please read the Guide to Reporting Problems to FDA.

If OVERDOSE is suspected:

Contact 1-800-222-1222 (the American Association of Poison Control Centers), your local poison control center, or emergency room immediately.

Proper storage of lamivudine:

Store lamivudine at 77 degrees F (25 degrees C). Brief storage at temperatures between 59 and 86 degrees F (15 and 30 degrees C) is permitted. Store away from heat, moisture, and light. Do not store in the bathroom. Keep lamivudine out of the reach of children and away from pets.

General information:

  • If you have any questions about lamivudine, please talk with your doctor, pharmacist, or other health care provider.
  • Lamivudine is to be used only by the patient for whom it is prescribed. Do not share it with other people.
  • If your symptoms do not improve or if they become worse, check with your doctor.
  • Check with your pharmacist about how to dispose of unused medicine.

This information should not be used to decide whether or not to take lamivudine or any other medicine. Only your health care provider has the knowledge and training to decide which medicines are right for you. This information does not endorse any medicine as safe, effective, or approved for treating any patient or health condition. This is only a brief summary of general information about lamivudine. It does NOT include all information about the possible uses, directions, warnings, precautions, interactions, adverse effects, or risks that may apply to lamivudine. This information is not specific medical advice and does not replace information you receive from your health care provider. You must talk with your healthcare provider for complete information about the risks and benefits of using lamivudine.

Issue Date: September 3, 2014
Database Edition 14.3.1.003
Copyright © 2014 Wolters Kluwer Health, Inc.

Disclaimer: This information should not be used to decide whether or not to take this medicine or any other medicine. Only your health care provider has the knowledge and training to decide which medicines are right for you. This information does not endorse any medicine as safe, effective, or approved for treating any patient or health condition. This is only a brief summary of general information about this medicine. It does NOT include all information about the possible uses, directions, warnings, precautions, interactions, adverse effects, or risks that may apply to this medicine. This information is not specific medical advice and does not replace information you receive from your health care provider. You must talk with your healthcare provider for complete information about the risks and benefits of using this medicine.

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