Lamivudine is an antiviral drug that prevents the reproduction of the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and the hepatitis B virus in your body.
Epivir is designed to treat HIV, a virus that can cause Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS). Epivir is not a cure for HIV or AIDS.
Epivir-HBV is intended for the treatment of hepatitis B. Epivir-HBV should not be used by people infected with both hepatitis B and HIV.
Lamivudine may also be used for purposes not listed in this manual.
You should not take Epivir-HBV (for the treatment of hepatitis B) if you are also taking another medicine that contains lamivudine or emtricitabine. An example of Atripla, Combivir, Complera, Emtriva, Epzicom, Stribild, Trizivir and Truvada.
Lamivudine can cause a serious disease called lactic acidosis. Get emergency medical help if you have even mild symptoms such as: muscle pain or weakness, numbness or a feeling of cold in your hands and feet, trouble breathing, stomach pain, nausea with vomiting, fast or uneven heart rhythm, dizziness or a sense of weakness.
Lamivudine can also cause severe or life-threatening effects in the liver or pancreas. Call your doctor immediately if you have: severe stomach pain extending to the back, nausea, loss of appetite, dark urine, clayey stools, or jaundice (yellowing of the skin or eyes).
If you have hepatitis B, you may develop bad symptoms in the liver after stopping Lamivud. Your liver should often be checked for several months after stopping the use of lamivudine.
You should not take lamivudine if you are allergic to it.
You should not take Epivir-HBV (for the treatment of hepatitis B) if you are also taking another medicine that contains lamivudine or emtricitabine:
- Atripla (efavirenz, emtricitabine and tenofovir);
- Combivir (lamivudine and zidovudine);
- Complera (rilpivirin, emtricitabine and tenofovir);
- Emtriva (emtricitabine);
- Epticom (abacavir and lamivudine);
- Stribild (cobicistat, elvitegravir, emtricitabine and tenofovir);
- Trizivir (abacavir, lamivudine and zidovudine); and
- Truvada (emtricitabine and tenofovir).
To make sure that Lamivudine is safe for you, tell your doctor if you have ever had:
- liver disease (especially hepatitis B if you are being treated for HIV infection), or if you have liver transplant;
- kidney disease;
- pancreatitis; or
- If you have used any drugs against HIV / AIDS in the past.
Some people taking lamivudine develop a severe condition called lactic acidosis. It may be more likely in women, in overweight people or with liver diseases, and in people who have taken HIV / AIDS medicines for a long time. Talk to your doctor about your risk.
If you have diabetes, you should know that the liquid forms of lamivudine contain 3 to 4 grams of sucrose (sugar) per dose.
It is not known whether this medicine harms the unborn child. Tell your doctor if you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant.
HIV can be transmitted to your child if you do not receive proper treatment during pregnancy. If you have HIV, take all your HIV medications as directed to control your infection.
Lamivudine can pass into breast milk and may harm a nursing baby. You should not breast-feed while using Lamivudine. Women with HIV or AIDS should not breast-feed. Even if your child was born without HIV, the virus can be passed on to the baby in breast milk.
Lamivudine is not approved for use by anyone younger than 2 years.
Lamivudine: side effects
Obtain immediate medical attention if you have signs of an allergic reaction: shortness of breath; swelling of the face, lips, tongue, or throat.
The early symptoms of lactic acidosis deteriorate over time, and this condition can be fatal. Get emergency medical help if you have even mild symptoms: muscle pain or weakness, numbness or a feeling of cold in your hands and feet, shortness of breath, stomach pain, nausea with vomiting, fast or uneven heart rhythm, dizziness or tiredness.
Call your doctor right away if you have:
- problems with the pancreas – severe pain in the stomach, spreading to the back, nausea and vomiting, fast heart rate; or
- liver problems – nausea, itching, fatigue, loss of appetite, dark urine, clayey stools, jaundice (yellowing of the skin or eyes).
Lamivudine may increase the risk of certain infections or autoimmune diseases by changing the functioning of your immune system. Symptoms may occur several weeks or months after the start of treatment. Tell your doctor if you have:
- signs of a new infection – fever, night sweats, swollen glands, mouth ulcers, diarrhea, stomach pain, weight loss;
- chest pain (especially when you are breathing), dry cough, whistling when breathing;
- herpes, ulcers on the genital or anal area;
- rapid heart rate, a feeling of anxiety or irritability, weakness, problems with the movement of the eyes;
- problems with swallowing, severe back pain;
- swelling in the neck or throat (enlarged thyroid gland), menstrual changes, impotence, loss of interest in sex.
Common side effects may include:
- nausea, diarrhea;
- changes in the shape or location of fat in the body (especially in the hands, legs, face, neck, chest and waist);
- fever, fatigue, general poor health;
- ear infection – pain in the ears, anxiety;
- nose or throat infection – stuffy nose, sneezing, sore throat, cough.
This is not a complete list of side effects and others may also occur. Ask your doctor about side effects.
Taking medication will not stop you from transmitting HIV to other people. Do not engage in unprotected sex, do not use someone else’s razors and toothbrushes. Talk with your doctor about safe ways to prevent the transmission of HIV during sex.
Other drugs may interact with lamivudine, including prescription and over-the-counter medicines, vitamins and plant products. Some drugs can not be used together with lamivudine. Tell your doctor about all your current medications and any medicine that you start or stop using.
Follow all directions of the recipe. Do not take this medicine in larger or smaller quantities or for longer than recommended. You should not take Epivir (for HIV treatment) with Epivir-HBV (for the treatment of hepatitis B).
Lamivudine can be taken with or without food.
You may need to break the Epivir tablet in half when you give this medicine to a child. Call your doctor if the child has trouble swallowing the pill.
If the child is using this medication, tell your doctor if the child has any weight changes. Lamivudine doses are based on the weight of children, and any changes can affect the dose. Children who weigh more than 30 pounds (14 kilograms) should use the tablet form of lamivudine, if possible. The liquid of lamivudine may not be as effective.
Change the liquid medicine with a dosing syringe and a special metering spoon or cup. If you do not have a device for measuring the dose, ask your pharmacist.
The Epivir brand contains a higher dose of lamivudine than the Epivir-HBV brand. Epivir is designed to treat HIV, and Epivir-HBV is designed to treat hepatitis B.
When using lamivudine, you may need frequent blood tests, kidney and liver function tests. You may also need frequent HIV testing. If you become infected with HIV while taking lamivudine to treat hepatitis, HIV can become resistant to antiviral medicines if you do not treat it immediately.
HIV / AIDS is usually treated with a combination of drugs. Use all medicines as directed by your doctor. Read the instructions provided with each medicine. Do not change the dose and timing of taking medication without consulting a doctor. Every person with HIV or AIDS should remain in the care of a doctor.
Store Lamivudine at room temperature away from moisture and heat. Do not freeze. Keep the bottle tightly closed when not in use.
If you have hepatitis B, you may develop symptoms of liver disease after stopping Lamivudine. A doctor can check your liver for several months after stopping the use of this medication.
Take the missed dose as soon as you remember. Skip it if it’s time to take the next scheduled dose. Do not take additional medication to compensate for the missed dose.