Generic Name: lamivudine, Oral tablet

Generic Name:

lamivudine, Oral tablet

Epivir

All Brands

  • Epivir
SECTION 1 of 5

Highlights for lamivudine

Oral tablet
1

Epivir is FDA-approved to treat human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection in adults and children aged 3 months and older.

2

Epivir is used in combination with other HIV drugs. It isn’t used on its own to treat HIV infection.

3

Epivir doesn’t have as many side effects and drug interactions as some other HIV medications. Common side effects can include changes in body fat, cough, and others.

4

The Epivir tablet is generally taken once or twice a day, depending on your dose strength and special considerations.

5

Epivir can lead to liver disease, especially if you have hepatitis B virus infection. Signs of liver disease include stomach pain, muscle pain, weakness, and diarrhea.

IMPORTANT INFORMATION

FDA Warning

This drug has a Black Box Warning. This is the most serious warning from the Food & Drug Administration (FDA). Though the medication can still be sold and used, a black box warning alerts doctors and patients to potentially dangerous effects.

Warning: Lactic acidosis and severe liver enlargement have occurred in people who take Epivir. Symptoms may include:

  • stomach pain
  • diarrhea
  • shallow breathing
  • muscle pain
  • weakness
  • feeling cold or dizzy

If you experience these symptoms, see your doctor right away.

Warning for people with hepatitis B virus infection. If you take Epivir and then stop taking it, your hepatitis B virus infection can become much more severe. Your healthcare provider would need to monitor you very carefully if this happens.

If you’ve used Epivir for hepatitis B virus infection, be aware that Epivir that is prescribed for HIV infection is a different strength. If you have HIV infection, don’t use Epivir prescribed to treat hepatitis B virus infection. You should only take drugs that are approved to treat HIV infection.

May cause pancreatitis

Pancreatitis, or swelling of the pancreas, has occurred very rarely in people who take Epivir. Signs of pancreatitis include stomach bloating, pain, nausea, vomiting and tenderness when touching the stomach. People who have had pancreatitis in the past may be at greater risk.

May cause liver disease

You could develop liver disease. If you already have hepatitis B or hepatitis C, your hepatitis could get worse. Symptoms of liver disease may include dark urine, loss of appetite, fatigue, jaundice or yellowing skin, nausea, and tenderness in the stomach area.

May cause immune reconstitution syndrome (IRS)

In IRS, your recovering immune system causes infections you’ve had in the past to return. Examples of past infections include fungal infections, pneumonia, or tuberculosis. Your doctor may need to treat the old infection if this happens.

Hypersensitivity or anaphylaxis warning

Drug hypersensitivity reactions and anaphylaxis are possible with Epivir. If you have sudden rash, breathing problems, or hives after taking Epivir, call 9-1-1 or go to an emergency room.

Drug Features

Epivir is a prescription drug. It is available in these forms: oral tablet and oral solution.

This drug is used as part of a combination therapy. You’ll need to take it with other drugs to treat your HIV infection.

Why It's Used

Epivir helps slow the progression of HIV by limiting the virus’s ability to make copies of itself. However, it doesn’t cure HIV infection.

Epivir is used to treat HIV infection in adults and children older than 3 months.

How It Works

Epivir is a nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitor (NRTI).

In order to make copies of itself and spread in your body, HIV needs to use an enzyme called reverse transcriptase.

More Details

How It Works

Epivir is a nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitor (NRTI).

In order to make copies of itself and spread in your body, HIV needs to use an enzyme called reverse transcriptase. NRTI’s like Epivir block the enzyme. Epivir prevents HIV from making copies as quickly, and it slows down the virus’s ability to spread.

When Epivir is used on its own, it can lead to drug resistance. It must be used in combination with at least two other antiretroviral drugs to control your HIV.  

SECTION 2 of 5

lamivudine Side Effects

Oral tablet

Most Common Side Effects

Epivir has fewer side effects than many other drugs that treat HIV infection. Most side effects are also less severe than in other HIV drugs.

Common side effects from Epivir include:

  • changes in the distribution of fat on your body, such as an increasing amount of fat on your neck and back

  • cough

  • diarrhea

  • fatigue

  • headache

  • malaise (general discomfort)

  • nasal symptoms, such as a runny nose

  • nausea

Serious Side Effects

If you experience any of these serious side effects, call your doctor right away. If your symptoms are potentially life-threatening, or if you think you’re experiencing a medical emergency, call 9-1-1.

  • symptoms of lactic acidosis or severe liver enlargement, including stomach pain, diarrhea, shallow breathing, muscle pain, weakness, and feeling cold or dizzy
  • symptoms of pancreatitis, including stomach bloating, pain, nausea, vomiting, and tenderness when touching the stomach
  • symptoms of hypersensitivity or anaphylaxis, including sudden or severe rash, breathing problems, or hives
  • symptoms of worsening hepatitis B virus infection
  • symptoms of liver disease, including dark urine, loss of appetite, fatigue, jaundice or yellowing skin, nausea, and tenderness in the stomach area
  • symptoms of fungal infection, pneumonia, or tuberculosis. These could be a sign that you’re experiencing immune reconstitution syndrome.
Pharmacist's Advice
Healthline Pharmacist Editorial Team

Epivir does not cause drowsiness. 

Disclaimer: Our goal is to provide you with the most relevant and current information. However, because drugs affect each person differently, we cannot guarantee that this information includes all possible side effects. This information is not a substitute for medical advice. Always discuss possible side effects with a healthcare provider who knows your medical history.
SECTION 3 of 5

lamivudine May Interact with Other Medications

Oral tablet

Epivir can interact with other medications, herbs, or vitamins you might be taking. That’s why your doctor should manage all of your medications carefully. If you’re curious about how this drug might interact with something else you’re taking, talk to your doctor or pharmacist.

Note: You can reduce your chances of drug interactions by having all of your prescriptions filled at the same pharmacy. That way, a pharmacist can check for possible drug interactions.

Medications That Interact with This Drug

Emtricitabine

Don’t take emtricitabine (Emtriva) if you are also taking Epivir. They are similar drugs and taking both can increase the toxic side effects of emtricitabine.

Zalcitabine

This HIV drug can interfere with your body’s absorption and use of Epivir. Avoid taking them together.

Trimethoprim/sulfamethoxazole

This combination antibiotic is used to treat various infections, including urinary tract infection, traveler’s diarrhea, and others. Epivir can interact with these drugs. Talk to your doctor if you’re taking this antibiotic. Other names for it include:

  • Septra DS
  • Cotrim DS

Interferon- and ribavirin-based drugs

These drugs are sometimes taken with Epivir for hepatitis C virus infection. However, the extra workload on the liver that these drugs cause can lead to liver disease.

These drugs include:

  • Pegasys
  • Peg-Intron
  • Rebetol
  • Ribasphere
  • Copegus
  • Moderiba

Disclaimer: Our goal is to provide you with the most relevant and current information. However, because drugs interact differently in each person, we cannot guarantee that this information includes all possible interactions. This information is not a substitute for medical advice. Always speak with your healthcare provider about possible interactions with all prescription drugs, vitamins, herbs and supplements, and over-the-counter drugs that you are taking.

People with hepatitis B

If you have both HIV and hepatitis B virus infection, Epivir could lose its effectiveness for you more quickly than if you didn’t have hepatitis B virus infection. Your doctor will monitor you for both diseases and may need to adjust your treatment.

People with hepatitis C

If you have HIV infection and hepatitis C virus infection and take interferon and ribavirin for hepatitis C virus infection, you could experience liver damage. Your doctor should monitor you for liver damage if you’re combining Epivir with these drugs.

People with pancreatitis

People who have had pancreatitis in the past may be at greater risk for developing the condition again when taking this drug. Symptoms of pancreatitis may include stomach bloating, pain, nausea, vomiting, and tenderness when touching the stomach.

People with slow kidney function

If you have kidney disease or reduced kidney function, your kidneys may not process Epivir from your body quickly enough. Your doctor may decrease the dose so that the drug doesn’t build up in your body.

Pregnant women

Epivir is a category C pregnancy drug. That means two things:

  1. Research in animals has shown adverse effects to the fetus when the mother takes the drug.
  2. There haven’t been enough studies done in humans to be certain how the drug might affect the fetus.

There are no adequate and well-controlled studies of Epivir in pregnant women. Epivir should be used during pregnancy only if the potential benefit outweighs potential risk to the fetus.

Women who are nursing

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that women with HIV do not breastfeed in order to avoid passing HIV through breast milk.

In addition, the drug passes through breast milk and could cause serious side effects in a baby.

For Seniors

If you are aged 65 years or older, your body may process this drug more slowly. Your doctor may start you on a lowered dose so that too much of this drug does not build up in your body. Too much of the drug in your body can be toxic.

Allergies

If you’ve had an allergic reaction to Epivir or Epivir in the past, you shouldn’t take it again.

If you experience wheezing, hives, or breathing problems after taking the drug, you may be allergic to it. Stop taking it immediately and go to an emergency room or call 9-1-1.

SECTION 4 of 5

How to Take lamivudine (Dosage)

Oral tablet

All possible dosages and forms may not be included here. Your dose, form, and how often you take it will depend on:

  • your age
  • the condition being treated
  • how severe your condition is
  • other medical conditions you have
  • how you react to the first dose

What Are You Taking This Medication For?

Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection

Brand: Epivir

Form: Oral tablet, Oral Solution
Strengths: 150 mg, 300 mg
Form: Oral solution
Strength: 10 mg/mL
Adult Dosage (ages 18 years and older)

Oral tablet: 300 mg each day. This amount can be given as 150 mg twice a day or 300 mg once a day. Epivir is always given with other HIV drugs, since it’s not a complete HIV treatment by itself.

Child Dosage (ages 16-17 years)

Oral tablet: 300 mg each day. This amount can be given as 150 mg twice a day or 300 mg once a day. Epivir is always given with other HIV drugs, since it’s not a complete HIV treatment by itself.

Child Dosage (ages 3 months to 16 years)

4 mg/kg, twice per day, up to a maximum dose of 150 mg, twice per day.

Oral solution: A liquid oral solution is available in one strength: 10 mg/mL of solution. The solution is dosed based on a child’s weight.

Child Dosage (ages 0-2 months)

Dosage for children younger than 3 months has not been established.

Special Considerations

Children and Others Who Can’t Swallow Tablets: Children and others who can’t swallow tablets may take the oral solution instead. The dose is based on body weight. Your doctor will determine the dose.

Children: Children aged 3 months or older can be treated with Epivir. A child’s dose will be based on their body weight. If you child needs Epivir, your pediatrician will decide what dose to give.

Kidney Disease: If you have kidney disease, your kidneys may not process Epivir from your blood quickly enough. Your doctor may decrease the dose so that the drug level doesn’t get too high in your body.

Hepatitis B Virus Infection: If you have hepatitis B virus infection your doctor will adjust your dose based on HBV medications you’re taking.

Disclaimer: Our goal is to provide you with the most relevant and current information. However, because drugs affect each person differently, we cannot guarantee that this list includes all possible dosages. This information is not a substitute for medical advice. Always to speak with your doctor or pharmacist about dosages that are right for you.
Pharmacist's Advice
Healthline Pharmacist Editorial Team

Keeping HIV infection under control requires long-term treatment and long-term effort. There can be very serious health consequences if you don’t take this drug exactly how your doctor tells you.

Your Risk if You Stop Taking It or Miss a Dose

If you stop taking this medication or miss doses, your HIV infection can become worse. You may have many more serious infections and HIV-related problems.

If You Don’t Take It on Schedule

Taking this drug at the same time every day increases your ability to keep the virus under control. If you don’t, you risk worsened infection.

If You Miss a Dose

If you forget to take your dose, take it as soon as you remember. If it's just a few hours until your next dose, wait and take your normal dose at the usual time.

Take just one tablet at a time. Never try to catch up by taking two tablets at once. This could result in toxic side effects.

How Can I Tell if the Drug is Working?

To see how well your treatment is working, your doctor will check your:

  • symptoms
  • Virus count. A virus count measures the number of copies of the HIV in your body.
  • CD4 count. A CD4 count measures the amount of CD4 cells in your body. CD4 cells are white blood cells that fight infection. An increased CD4 count is a sign that your HIV treatment is working.

Epivir is a long-term drug treatment.

You can cut or crush the Epivir tablet

If you have trouble using the tablet form of the drug, ask your doctor about the solution form.

Keep Epivir tablets at room temperature: 68–77° F (20–25° C)

The drug can occasionally be in temperatures between 59–86° F (15–30° C).

Keep bottles of tablets and solution tightly closed to keep them fresh and potent.

Note: Be careful of moist environments, including bathrooms. To keep drugs away from moisture, store them somewhere other than your bathroom and any other damp location.

Clinical Monitoring

Clinical monitoring will include:

  • appointments with your doctor
  • occasional blood tests for liver function and CD4 count. (CD4 cells are a type of white blood cell that fights infections.)
  • other examinations

While you take Epivir, you will need:

  • blood tests to check liver function
  • blood tests to measure CD4 count

Not every pharmacy stocks this drug, so call ahead

If you only need a few tablets, you should call and ask if your pharmacy dispenses only a small number of tablets. Some pharmacies can't dispense only part of a bottle.

This drug is often available from specialty pharmacies through your insurance plan. These pharmacies operate like mail order pharmacies and ship the drug to you.

In larger cities, there will often be HIV pharmacies where you can have your prescriptions filled. Ask your doctor if there's a HIV pharmacy in your area.

Insurance

Many insurance companies will require a prior authorization before they approve the prescription and pay for Epivir.

Are There Any Alternatives?

There are many drugs and combinations that can treat HIV infection. Some may be more suitable for you than others. Talk to your doctor about possible alternatives.

What does the pill look like?

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How Much Does lamivudine Cost?

Oral tablet
We've partnered with GoodRX so you can compare prices and save money on your next prescription. Check out the lowest cash prices below and enter your zip code to find the best deal near you.

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Lowest price for lamivudine

Walgreens $87.22
Rite-Aid $93.43
CVS Pharmacy $113.05
These represent the lowest cash prices for lamivudine and may be lower than your insurance.

Find the lowest prices of lamivudine near you

These represent the lowest cash prices for lamivudine and may be lower than your insurance.

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Content developed in collaboration with Susan J. Bliss, RPh, MBA

Medically reviewed by Stacey Boudreaux, PharmD and Alan Carter, PharmD on February 9, 2015

Disclaimer: Healthline has made every effort to make certain that all information is factually correct, comprehensive, and up-to-date. However, this article should not be used as a substitute for the knowledge and expertise of a licensed healthcare professional. You should always consult your doctor or other healthcare professional before taking any medication. The drug information contained herein is subject to change and is not intended to cover all possible uses, directions, precautions, warnings, drug interactions, allergic reactions, or adverse effects. The absence of warnings or other information for a given drug does not indicate that the drug or drug combination is safe, effective, or appropriate for all patients or all specific uses.

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