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Generic Name: lamivudine (la MIV yoo deen)
Brand Names: Epivir, Epivir HBV

What is Epivir?

Epivir (lamivudine) is an antiviral medicine that prevents human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) or hepatitis B virus from multiplying in your body.

Epivir is for treating HIV, the virus that can cause acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS). This medicine is not a cure for HIV or AIDS.

Epivir-HBV is for treating hepatitis B. Epivir-HBV should not be used in people who are infected with both hepatitis B and HIV.

Important information

The Epivir-HBV brand of lamivudine (for treating hepatitis B) should not be taken together with any other medicine that contains lamivudine or emtricitabine. This includes Atripla, Combivir, Complera, Emtriva, Epzicom, Stribild, Trizivir, and Truvada.

This medicine may cause a serious condition called lactic acidosis. 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.

Epivir can also cause severe or life-threatening effects on your liver or pancreas. Call your doctor at once if you have: severe pain in your upper stomach spreading to your back, nausea and vomiting, fast heart rate, 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 Epivir, even months after stopping. Your doctor may want to check your liver function for several months after you stop using this medicine.

Before taking this medicine

You should not take Epivir if you are allergic to lamivudine.

The Epivir-HBV brand of lamivudine (for treating hepatitis B) should not be taken together with any other medicine that contains lamivudine or emtricitabine, which includes:

  • Atripla (efavirenz, emtricitabine, and tenofovir);

  • Combivir (lamivudine and zidovudine);

  • Complera (rilpivirine, emtricitabine, and tenofovir);

  • Emtriva (emtricitabine);

  • Epzicom (abacavir and lamivudine);

  • Stribild (cobicistat, elvitegravir, emtricitabine, and tenofovir);

  • Trizivir (abacavir, lamivudine, and zidovudine); and

  • Truvada (emtricitabine and tenofovir).

To make sure Epivir is safe for you, tell your doctor if you have:

  • liver disease (especially hepatitis B if you are being treated for HIV), or if you had a liver transplant;

  • kidney disease;

  • a history of pancreatitis; or

  • if you have used a medicine similar to lamivudine in the past, such as abacavir (Ziagen), didanosine (Videx), emtricitabine (Atripla, Complera, Emtriva, Stribild, Truvada), stavudine (Zerit), tenofovir (Viread), zalcitabine (Hivid), or zidovudine (Retrovir).

Some people taking Epivir develop a serious condition called lactic acidosis. This may be more likely in women, in people who are overweight or have liver disease, and in people who have taken HIV/AIDS medication for a long time. Talk with your doctor about your risk.

It is not known whether Epivir 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. 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 lamivudine on the baby.

Lamivudine can pass into breast milk and may harm a nursing baby. You should not breast-feed while you are using Epivir to treat hepatitis B. 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.

Epivir should not be given to a child younger than 2 years old.

If you have diabetes, you should know that the liquid forms of lamivudine contain 3 to 4 grams of sucrose (sugar) per dose.

How should I take Epivir?

ake Epivir exactly as prescribed by your doctorFollow all directions on your prescription label. Do not take this medicine in larger or smaller amounts or for longer than recommended. You should not take Epivir (for treating HIV) together with Epivir-HBV (for treating hepatitis B).

Epivir can be taken with or without food.

You may need to break an Epivir tablet in half when giving this medicine to a child for HIV. Call your doctor if the child has any trouble swallowing the tablet.

If a child is using this medicine, tell your doctor if the child has any changes in weight. Lamivudine doses are based on weight in children, and any changes may affect your child's dose.

Measure liquid medicine with the dosing syringe provided, or with a special dose-measuring spoon or medicine cup. If you do not have a dose-measuring device, ask your pharmacist for one.

Children who weigh more than 30 pounds (14 kilograms) should use the tablet form of lamivudine if possible. Lamivudine liquid may not be as effective.

The Epivir brand (for treating HIV) contains a higher dose of lamivudine than Epivir-HBV brand (for treating hepatitis B). Each time you get a refill of this medication, be sure you have received the correct brand to treat your condition.

While using Epivir, you may need frequent blood tests. Your kidney and liver function may also need to be checked.

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.

Store at room temperature away from moisture and heat. Do not allow the liquid form of this medicine to freeze. Keep the bottle tightly closed when not in use.

If you have hepatitis B you may develop liver symptoms after you stop taking Epivir. Your doctor may want to check your liver function for several months after you stop using this medicine.

See also: Dosage Information (in more detail)

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.

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 Epivir?

Taking this medicine will not prevent you from passing HIV to other people. Do not have unprotected sex or share 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.

Epivir side effects

Get emergency medical help if you have signs of an allergic reaction to Epivir: hives; difficult breathing; swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat.

Early symptoms of lactic acidosis may get worse over time and this condition can be fatal. Get emergency medical help if you have even mild symptoms: 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.

Call your doctor at once if you have:

  • pancreas problems - severe pain in your upper stomach spreading to your back, nausea and vomiting, fast heart rate; or

  • liver problems - nausea, upper stomach pain, itching, tired feeling, loss of appetite, dark urine, clay-colored stools, jaundice (yellowing of the skin or eyes).

Epivir may increase your risk of certain infections or autoimmune disorders by changing the way your immune system works. Symptoms may occur weeks or months after you start treatment with Epivir. Tell your doctor if you have:

  • signs of a new infection - fever, night sweats, swollen glands, mouth sores, diarrhea, stomach pain, weight loss;

  • chest pain (especially when you breathe), dry cough, wheezing, feeling short of breath;

  • cold sores, sores on your genital or anal area;

  • rapid heart rate, feeling anxious or irritable, weakness or prickly feeling, problems with balance or eye movement;

  • trouble speaking or swallowing, severe lower back pain, loss of bladder or bowel control; or

  • swelling in your neck or throat (enlarged thyroid), menstrual changes, impotence, loss of interest in sex.

Common Epivir side effects may include:

  • nausea, diarrhea;

  • headache;

  • general ill feeling; or

  • cold symptoms such as stuffy nose, sneezing, sore throat, cough.

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 Epivir?

Other drugs may interact with lamivudine, including prescription and over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, and herbal products. Some drugs should not be used together with Epivir. Tell each of your health care providers about all medicines you use now and any medicine you start or stop using.

Where can I get more information?

  • Your pharmacist can provide more information about Epivir.
  • Remember, keep this and all other medicines out of the reach of children, never share your medicines with others, and use Epivir 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 1996-2016 Cerner Multum, Inc. Version: 10.02.

Date modified: November 03, 2016
Last reviewed: October 21, 2016

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