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Other Names: Abacavir(ABC) 600mg/Lamivudine(3TC) 300mg
What is it?
Epzicom® is the combination of two antiretroviral drugs (abacavir and lamivudine) used to treat HIV, a retrovirus. Retroviruses use the genetic material in the body’s cells to produce more virus which can infect other cells.
How does it work?
Epzicom® interferes with the life cycles of HIV to stop them from producing more virus. Specifically, this combination inhibits the enzyme called reverse transcriptase so HIV cannot build the genetic material needed to make more virus and infect more cells. This is why these drugs are often called nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors (NRTI). This medication is used in combination with other antiretroviral drugs to treat HIV infection.
How do I take it?
It is extremely important that you take Epzicom® and your other antiretroviral medications exactly as directed. You should set up a system that will help you remember to take your medicines so that you do not miss any doses. If you miss a dose, take it as soon as possible and space the remaining doses out over the rest of the day. However, if you skip a dose, do not take two doses at once. Do not stop taking the medication for any reason at any time unless you are directed to do so by your provider. If you are unable to continue taking your medication due to side effects, you should contact your provider immediately.
Some drugs taken together may have interactions that cause illness or impair the effectiveness of the drugs. It is a good idea to always check with your provider before taking any other medications, prescription or otherwise, to be sure it will not interact with Epzicom®.
Not everyone experiences side effects. When they do occur, they may be mild, moderate or severe. Some side effects cannot be felt by the patient but can be found through laboratory tests, so it is important to see your provider regularly for checkups so that side effects can be detected early and treated.
The most common side effects of abacavir are: nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, headache, decreased appetite, difficulty sleeping, and rash.
A hypersensitivity reaction (a serious allergic reaction) has been reported in some patients taking abacavir. Signs and symptoms of this life-threatening reaction include skin rash; fever; gastrointestinal symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, or abdominal pain; severe tiredness, achiness or generally ill feeling; respiratory symptoms such as sore throat, shortness of breath, or cough. If these symptoms occur, contact your provider immediately for further instructions. If it is determined that you are having a hypersensitivity reaction, you should stop abacavir and NEVER again take this medication.
The most common side effects of lamivudine are: Headache, fever, chills, muscle aches, dizziness, nausea, vomiting, insomnia, restelessness, and rash. Other side effects of lamivudine include changes in liver function, changes in pancreas function, neutropenia (decrease in white blood cells) and anemia (decrease in red blood cells). Symptoms of anemia or neutropenia that you may notice include unusual tiredness or weakness, shortness of breath, or any sign of infection. If you begin having these symptoms, please contact your provider.
Nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors such as Epzicom® have been associated with a condition called lactic acidosis. Lactic acidosis is a build-up of lactic acid, a byproduct of muscle metabolism, in the blood. Early symptoms can be vague and non-specific and can include nausea, vomiting, fatigue, abdominal pain, sudden unexplained weight loss, and shortness of breath. If you are experiencing these symptoms and they cannot be explained by other causes, please contact your provider immediately. Although lactic acidosis is a rare condition, it can be life-threatening if not treated.
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