|Lamivudine Lamivudine

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Generic name: Lamivudine
Brand names: Epivir

Why is Lamivudine prescribed?

Lamivudine is one of the drugs used to fight infection with the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), the deadly cause of AIDS. Doctors turn to Lamivudine as the infection gets worse. The drug is taken along with Retrovir, another HIV medication.

HIV does its damage by slowly destroying the immune system, eventually leaving the body defenseless against infections. Like other drugs for HIV, Lamivudine interferes with the virus"s ability to reproduce. This staves off the collapse of the immune system.

Most important fact about Lamivudine

The Lamivudine/Retrovir combination does not completely eliminate HIV or totally restore the immune system. There is still a danger of serious infections, so you should be sure to see your doctor regularly for monitoring and tests.

How should you take Lamivudine?

It"s important to keep adequate levels of Lamivudine in your bloodstream at all times, so you need to keep taking Lamivudine regularly, just as prescribed, even when you"re feeling better. Lamivudine may be taken with or without food.

--If you miss a dose...

Take it as soon as you remember. If it is almost time for the next dose, skip the one you missed and go back to your regular schedule. Do not take 2 doses at once.

--Storage instructions...

Store at room temperature. Keep the bottle tightly closed.

What side effects may occur?

Side effects cannot be anticipated. If any develop or change in intensity, inform your doctor as soon as possible. Only your doctor can determine if it is safe for you to continue taking Lamivudine.

  • Side effects may include...
    Abdominal cramps and pains, allergic reaction, anemia, chills, cough, depression, diarrhea, dizziness, enlarged lymph nodes, enlarged spleen, fatigue, fever, general feeling of illness, hair loss, headache, hives, insomnia and other sleep problems, itching, joint pain, liver damage, lost appetite, mouth sores, muscle and bone pain, muscle weakness or wasting, nasal problems, nausea, pancreatitis, prickling or tingling sensation, skin rashes, stomach upset, vomiting, weakness, wheezing

Why should Lamivudine not be prescribed?

If Lamivudine gives you an allergic reaction, you cannot take Lamivudine.

Special warnings about Lamivudine

The Lamivudine tablets and liquid used to treat HIV are not interchangeable with Lamivudine-HBV, a low-dose form of the drug used to treat the chronic liver disease hepatitis B. If you have both HIV and hepatitis B, you should be treated with the high-strength form of the drug along with other HIV medications. Treatment with Lamivudine-HBV could promote drug-resistant strains of HIV. Note that when you stop taking Lamivudine, the hepatitis B may come back.

Remember that Lamivudine does not eliminate HIV from the body. The infection can still be passed to others through sexual contact or blood contamination.

Lamivudine can cause an enlarged liver and the chemical imbalance known as lactic acidosis. This serious and sometimes fatal side effect is more likely in women, people who are overweight, and those who have been taking drugs such as Lamivudine for an extended period. Signs of lactic acidosis include fatigue, nausea, abdominal pain, and a feeling of unwellness. Contact your doctor if you experience any of these symptoms. Treatment with Lamivudine may have to be discontinued.

The Lamivudine/Retrovir combination should be given to a child with a history of pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas) only when there is no alternative. If any signs of a pancreas problem develop while the child is taking this combination, treatment should be stopped immediately. The chief signs of pancreatitis are bouts of severe abdominal pain--usually lasting for days--accompanied by nausea and vomiting.

Some people receiving drugs for HIV experience a redistribution of body fat, leading to extra fat around the middle, a "buffalo hump" on the back, and wasting in the arms, legs, and face. Researchers don"t know whether this represents a long-term health problem or not.

Possible food and drug interactions when taking Lamivudine

Combining Lamivudine with the HIV drug Hivid is not recommended. Check with your doctor before combining Lamivudine with Bactrim or Septra.

While no other interactions with Lamivudine have been reported, its companion drug, Retrovir, can interact with a number of medications.

Special information if you are pregnant or breastfeeding

The effects of Lamivudine during pregnancy have not been adequately studied, but there is reason to suspect some risk. If you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant, notify your doctor immediately.

Since HIV can be passed to your baby through breast milk, you should not plan on breastfeeding.

Recommended dosage


The usual dose (either tablets or liquid) is 150 milligrams twice daily or 300 milligrams once a day. Your doctor may adjust the dosage if you have kidney problems or weigh less than 110 pounds.


The usual dose is 4 milligrams per 2.2 pounds of body weight twice a day, up to a maximum of 150 milligrams twice daily. The safety of Lamivudine in combination with antiretroviral drugs other than Retrovir has not been established in children.


The symptoms of Lamivudine overdose are unknown at this time. However, any medication taken in excess can have serious consequences. If you suspect an overdose, seek medical attention immediately.

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