Lamivudine belongs to a group of antiviral medications called reverse transcriptase inhibitors (NRTI) which prevent the multiplying of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) cells in the body.
HIV targets and infects the same immune system cells that protect us from illnesses. These are a type of white blood cells called CD4 cells. HIV takes control of the CD4 cells, turning them into virus factories that produce thousands of viral copies. As the virus evolves, it damages or kills CD4 cells, therfore weakening the immune system.
If the immune system loses too many CD4 cells, the body is less able to fight off infection and can develop serious illnesses, cancers and neurological problems. Called opportunistic infections (OIs), they take advantage of the body’s weakened defenses. OIs can lead to hospitalization and disability, and are responsible for most of the deaths in people with AIDS.
- Use of lamivudine for the treatment of HIV, may reduce the amount of HIV in the blood and increase the number of CD4 cells (T-cells) in the blood.
- Lamivudine will not cure hepatitis B infection, HIV infection, or AIDS.
- Use caution while driving or operating any machinery as lamivudine may cause dizziness or drowsiness.
- Avoid alcohol while taking lamivudine.
- High levels of lactic acid in the blood and severe liver problems that can cause death have been reported with the use of HIV infection medications alone or in combination with this medication and other HIV medicines.
Do not take lamivudine if you are also taking Combivir (lamivudine/zidovudine), or if you’ve had an allergic reaction to a medicine containing lamivudine, including Combivir, Epzicom, or Trizivir.
Before taking lamivudine, tell your doctor if you are allergic to any drugs, or if you have:
- kidney disease;
- liver disease (including hepatitis B);
- a history of pancreatitis; or
- if you have used a medicine similar to lamivudine in the past, such as abacavir (Ziagen), didanosine (Videx), stavudine (Zerit), tenofovir (Viread), zalcitabine (Hivid), or zidovudine (Retrovir).
Pregnant women should be advised of the risks of using this medication while they are expecting, including the risk of cancer and the possible transmission of the HIV infection to the unborn child. HIV-infected mothers should not breastfeed their infants because of the risk of transmitting the HIV infection.
Lamivudine offers no protection from the transmission of HIV to others through sexual contact or blood contamination. This medication is not a cure for HIV infection (the virus that causes AIDS). Patients may continue to experience illnesses/infections associated with HIV infection. Patients should remain under the care of their doctor.
Lamivudine Side Effects
Most severe: Inflammation of the pancreas (stomach pain/tenderness, nausea, vomiting), sensation or pins and needles; skin rash, stabbing pain, tingling, burning, numbness, or pain in the hands, arms, feet, or legs; unsteadiness or awkwardness.
Most common: Adults: nausea; headache; fatigue; weakness; diarrhea; cough; fever; chills; vomiting; stomach pain; nasal problems; nerve disease; muscle pain; appetite loss; sleeplessness; sleep disorders; rash; indigestion; joint pain; dizziness; depression. Children: fever; cough; rash; nasal discharge or congestion; abnormal breathing; wheezing; nausea; vomiting; diarrhea; ear problems.
Other: Acid or sour stomach; belching; cough; heartburn; indigestion; stomach discomfort or upset.
This information is advisory only. It does not contain all information about this medication. If you have any questions about lamivudine, ask your doctor, pharmacist, or health care provider.
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