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Epzicom

Generic Name: abacavir and lamivudine (a BAK a veer and la MIV yoo deen)
Brand Name: Epzicom

What is abacavir and lamivudine?

Abacavir and lamivudine are antiviral medications that prevent human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) cells from multiplying in your body.

The combination of abacavir and lamivudine is used to treat HIV, which causes the acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS). This medication is not a cure for HIV or AIDS.

Abacavir and lamivudine may also be used for purposes not listed in this medication guide.

What is the most important information I should know about abacavir and lamivudine?

Stop using this medication and call your doctor at once if you have any of these signs of an allergic reaction: fever; rash; nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, stomach pain; general ill feeling, extreme tiredness, body aches; shortness of breath, cough, sore throat.

Once you have had an allergic reaction to abacavir, you must never use it again.

Read the Warning Card that comes with this medication, and carry it with you at all times so you will know the symptoms of allergic reaction to watch for.

Some people develop lactic acidosis while taking abacavir and lamivudine. Early symptoms may get worse over time and this condition can be fatal. Get emergency medical help if you have even mild symptoms such as: muscle pain or weakness, numb or cold feeling in your arms and legs, trouble breathing, stomach pain, nausea with vomiting, fast or uneven heart rate, dizziness, or feeling very weak or tired.

Slideshow: Flashback: FDA Drug Approvals 2013

Abacavir and lamivudine can also cause severe or life-threatening effects on your liver. Call your doctor at once if you have any of these symptoms while taking this medication: pain in your upper stomach, itching, loss of appetite, dark urine, clay-colored stools, or jaundice (yellowing of the skin or eyes).

If you have hepatitis B you may develop liver symptoms after you stop taking this medication, even months after stopping. Your doctor may want to check your liver function for several months after you stop using abacavir and lamivudine. Visit your doctor regularly.

Do not allow your medicine to run out completely before you get your prescription refilled. It is important that you not stop taking abacavir and lamivudine once you have started. If you miss several doses, you may have a dangerous or even fatal allergic reaction once you start taking the medicine again. If you stop taking abacavir and lamivudine for any reason, talk to your doctor before you start taking the medication again.

What should I discuss with my healthcare provider before taking abacavir and lamivudine?

Do not take this medication if you have ever had an allergic reaction to Epzicom or any medicine that contains abacavir or lamivudine, including: Combivir, Epivir, Trizivir, or Ziagen. Once you have had an allergic reaction to abacavir, you must never use it again.

Some people develop a life-threatening condition called lactic acidosis while taking abacavir and lamivudine. You may be more likely to develop lactic acidosis if you are overweight or have liver disease, if you are a woman, or if you have taken HIV or AIDS medications for a long time. Talk with your doctor about your individual risk.

Abacavir and lamivudine can also cause severe or life-threatening effects on your liver. You should not take abacavir and lamivudine if you have liver disease.

Do not take abacavir and lamivudine with any of the following HIV medications: Atripla, Combivir, Complera, Emtriva, Epivir, Trizivir, Truvada, Zerit, or Ziagen.

To make sure you can safely take abacavir and lamivudine, tell your doctor if you have any of these other conditions:

  • kidney disease;

  • heart disease or high blood pressure;

  • a risk factor for heart disease such as smoking, diabetes, or high cholesterol; or

  • if you have used an HIV medication in the past, such as abacavir (Ziagen), didanosine (Videx), emtricitabine (Atripla, Complera, Emtriva, Truvada), lamivudine (Combivir, Epivir, Trizivir), stavudine (Zerit), tenofovir (Viread), zalcitabine (Hivid), or zidovudine (Retrovir).

You may need a blood test before you start taking abacavir and lamivudine for the first time, or if you are restarting the medication after stopping for reasons not related to an allergic reaction.

FDA pregnancy category C. It is not known whether abacavir and lamivudine will harm an unborn baby. HIV can be passed to your baby if you are not properly treated during pregnancy. Tell your doctor if you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant during treatment. Take all of your HIV medicines as directed to control your infection.

If you are pregnant, your name may be listed on a pregnancy registry. This is to track the outcome of the pregnancy and to evaluate any effects of this medication on the baby.

Women with HIV or AIDS should not breast-feed a baby. Even if your baby is born without HIV, the virus may be passed to the baby in your breast milk.

How should I take abacavir and lamivudine?

Take exactly as prescribed by your doctor. Do not take in larger or smaller amounts or for longer than recommended. Follow the directions on your prescription label.

Abacavir and lamivudine may be taken with or without food.

This medicine comes with a Medication Guide and a Warning Card that lists the symptoms of an allergic reaction. Read this information carefully and carry the Warning Card with you at all times so you will know what symptoms to watch for.

Use this medication regularly to get the most benefit. Get your prescription refilled before you run out of medicine completely.

HIV/AIDS is usually treated with a combination of drugs. Use all medications as directed by your doctor. Read the medication guide or patient instructions provided with each medication. Do not change your doses or medication schedule without your doctor's advice. Every person with HIV or AIDS should remain under the care of a doctor.

If you have hepatitis B you may develop liver symptoms after you stop taking this medication, even months after stopping. Your doctor may want to check your liver function for several months after you stop using abacavir and lamivudine. Visit your doctor regularly.

Store at room temperature away from moisture and heat.

What happens if I miss a dose?

Take the missed dose as soon as you remember. Skip the missed dose if it is almost time for your next scheduled dose. Do not take extra medicine to make up the missed dose.

Do not allow your medicine to run out completely before you get your prescription refilled. It is important that you not stop taking the medicine once you have started. If you miss several doses, you may have a dangerous or even fatal allergic reaction once you start taking this medication again.

What happens if I overdose?

Seek emergency medical attention or call the Poison Help line at 1-800-222-1222.

What should I avoid while taking abacavir and lamivudine?

Avoid drinking alcohol. It may increase your risk of liver damage.

Taking this medication will not prevent you from passing HIV to other people. Avoid having unprotected sex or sharing razors or toothbrushes. Talk with your doctor about safe ways to prevent HIV transmission during sex. Sharing drug or medicine needles is never safe, even for a healthy person.

Abacavir and lamivudine side effects

Stop using this medication and call your doctor at once if you have symptoms of an allergic reaction from two or more of these specific side effect groups:

  • Group 1 - fever;

  • Group 2 - rash;

  • Group 3 - nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, stomach pain;

  • Group 4 - general ill feeling, extreme tiredness, body aches;

  • Group 5 - shortness of breath, cough, sore throat.

Once you have had an allergic reaction to this medication, you must never use it again. If you stop taking abacavir and lamivudine for any reason, talk to your doctor before you start taking it again.

This medication may cause lactic acidosis (a build-up of lactic acid in the body, which can be fatal). Lactic acidosis can start slowly and get worse over time. Get emergency medical help if you have even mild symptoms of lactic acidosis, such as: muscle pain or weakness, numb or cold feeling in your arms and legs, trouble breathing, stomach pain, nausea with vomiting, fast or uneven heart rate, dizziness, or feeling very weak or tired.

Abacavir and lamivudine can cause serious side effects that may not be signs of an allergic reaction. Call your doctor at once if you have:

  • the first sign of any skin rash, no matter how mild;

  • signs of a new infection such as flu symptoms, easy bruising or unusual bleeding, loss of appetite, mouth sores;

  • severe pain in your upper stomach spreading to your back;

  • itching, loss of appetite, dark urine, clay-colored stools, jaundice (yellowing of the skin or eyes);

  • increased sweating, tremors in your hands, anxiety, feeling irritable, sleep problems (insomnia);

  • diarrhea, unexplained weight loss, menstrual changes, impotence, loss of interest in sex;

  • swelling in your neck or throat (enlarged thyroid);

  • weakness or prickly feeling in your fingers or toes;

  • problems with walking, breathing, speech, swallowing, or eye movement; or

  • severe lower back pain, loss of bladder or bowel control.

Less serious side effects include:

  • strange dreams;

  • headache, dizziness, depression, anxiety;

  • mild nausea or diarrhea; or

  • changes in the shape or location of body fat (especially in your arms, legs, face, neck, breasts, and trunk).

This is not a complete list of side effects and others may occur. Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.

See also: Side effects (in more detail)

What other drugs will affect abacavir and lamivudine?

Tell your doctor about all other medicines you use, especially:

  • methadone (Diskets, Dolophine, Methadose);

  • ribavirin (Copegus, Rebetron, Virazole); or

  • interferon (Alferon, Avonex, Betaseron, Extavia, Intron, Rebetron, Rebif).

This list is not complete and other drugs may interact with abacavir and lamivudine. Tell your doctor about all medications you use. This includes prescription, over-the-counter, vitamin, and herbal products. Do not start a new medication without telling your doctor.

Where can I get more information?

  • Your pharmacist can provide more information about abacavir and lamivudine.
  • Remember, keep this and all other medicines out of the reach of children, never share your medicines with others, and use this medication only for the indication prescribed.
  • Disclaimer: Every effort has been made to ensure that the information provided by Cerner Multum, Inc. ('Multum') is accurate, up-to-date, and complete, but no guarantee is made to that effect. Drug information contained herein may be time sensitive. Multum information has been compiled for use by healthcare practitioners and consumers in the United States and therefore Multum does not warrant that uses outside of the United States are appropriate, unless specifically indicated otherwise. Multum's drug information does not endorse drugs, diagnose patients or recommend therapy. Multum's drug information is an informational resource designed to assist licensed healthcare practitioners in caring for their patients and/or to serve consumers viewing this service as a supplement to, and not a substitute for, the expertise, skill, knowledge and judgment of healthcare practitioners. The absence of a warning for a given drug or drug combination in no way should be construed to indicate that the drug or drug combination is safe, effective or appropriate for any given patient. Multum does not assume any responsibility for any aspect of healthcare administered with the aid of information Multum provides. The information contained herein is not intended to cover all possible uses, directions, precautions, warnings, drug interactions, allergic reactions, or adverse effects. If you have questions about the drugs you are taking, check with your doctor, nurse or pharmacist.

Copyright 1996-2012 Cerner Multum, Inc. Version: 5.01. Revision Date: 2012-02-14, 9:38:09 AM.

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