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Chemical Name: Lamivudine
Epivir is one of the drugs used to fight infection with the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), the deadly cause of AIDS. Doctors turn to Epivir as the infection gets worse. The drug is taken along with Retrovir, which is another HIV medication. It is in a category of HIV medications called nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors (NRTIs). Epivir prevents HIV from altering the genetic material of healthy T-cells. This prevents the cells from producing new virus and decreases the amount of virus in the body.
HIV does its damage by slowly destroying the immune system, eventually leaving the body defenseless against infections. Like other drugs for HIV, Epivir interferes with the virus's ability to reproduce. This staves off the collapse of the immune system.
Epivir is also approved for the treatment of chronic hepatitis B infection (Epivir HBV). The Epivir dose normally used to treat hepatitis B is one 100mg tablet once a day. The dose used to treat HIV is one 300mg tablet once a day, or one 150mg tablet every 12 hours. If you are infected with both HIV and hepatitis B, it is important that you take the dose used to treat HIV. It's important to keep adequate levels of Epivir in your bloodstream at all times, so you need to keep taking Epivir regularly, just as prescribed, even when you're feeling better. Epivir 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.
The Epivir/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.
When combined with Retrovir, Epivir also has been shown to significantly decrease mother-to-newborn transmission of HIV when taken by the mother during the last month of pregnancy and by the mother and newborn within the first week after delivery. In addition, it has been used in combination therapy to help prevent HIV transmission after accidental occupational (health, safety and law enforcement workers), sexual and needle-sharing exposure.
Epivir Side Effects:
Epivir is the best tolerated due to very few side effects. The most common side effects are diarrhea, fatigue, weakness, and headache.
Other side effects include: nausea, loss of appetite, stomach-area cramping or pain, congestion or "stuffy" nose, sleep problems (including insomnia and sleepiness), dizziness, possible tingling or numbness in the feet and/or hands (neuropathy), depression, skin rash, itching, muscle aches or pains, bone aches or pains, coughing, and anxiety or nervousness.
The NRTI class of anti-HIV drugs does have an adverse side effect that can be fatal. This is a grouping of abnormalities with too much acid in the blood, and an enlarged, fatty liver. It is called "lactic acidosis-severe hepatomegaly with steatosis." Symptoms could include weakness, nausea, stomach-intestine pain and vomiting. Not all symptoms need to be present. Sometimes, shortness of breath and a fast heart beat may be present. The majority of patients who develop this "syndrome" are women. Other risk factors include increasing length of time taking an NRTI drug(s) and being overweight. There is a suggestion that those with pre-existing liver disease may also be at higher risk. That would include those with chronic hepatitis B or C or cirrhosis (liver scarring) due to other causes. The specific diagnosis is by blood tests and physical examination to check for a large liver and other abnormalities. Sometimes, the liver enzymes are only increased mildly, including alanine aminotransferase (ALT) and aspartate aminotransferase (AST). An abnormally low "bicarbonate" level usually would be present in the blood that would be associated with the increase in "acid" levels.
The generic alternative is not manufactured by the company that makes the brand product.
All prices are in US dollars.
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