Written by Rachel Nall | Published on October 23, 2013
Medically Reviewed by George Krucik, MD, MBA on October 23, 2013

What Is Epzicom?

Brand Name: Epzicom
Generic Name: ABC/3TC, abacavir sulfate/lamivudine

Epzicom is a medication physicians prescribe to treat HIV. The medication has two components: 600 mg of abacavir sulfate and 300 mg of lamivudine.

Read the FDA description of Epzicom.

What Does Epzicom Do?

Epzicom belongs to a class of medications known as nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors (NRTIs). These medications block the effectiveness of an enzyme present in HIV known as reverse transciptase. As a result, HIV cannot replicate as easily. Epzicom is not a cure for HIV.

You can take Epzicom with or without food.

This information is a summary. Before starting this medication, discuss questions with your healthcare provider and make sure you understand dosage instructions.

What Should I Tell My Doctor Before Starting Epzicom?

Tell your doctor if you:

  • have an allergy to abacavir, lamivudine, or other HIV treatment medications
  • are breastfeeding or are planning on breastfeeding
  • are pregnant or are thinking of becoming pregnant
  • have been told you have the gene HLA-B*5701
  • have heart-related conditions, such as heart disease, high blood pressure, or high cholesterol
  • have kidney problems
  • have a history of liver disease, such as hepatitis B or hepatitis C

What Medications May Interact with Epzicom?

Always tell your physician about any prescription medications or herbal remedies you are taking.

Medications that can adversely interact with Epzicom include:

  • anti-hepatitis medications, such as interferon or ribavirin (Copegus, Rebetol, Ribasphere, Vilona, Virazole)
  • efavirenz/emtricitabine/tenofovir disoproxil fumarate (Atripla)
  • lamivudine and zidovudine (Combivir)
  • emtricitabine/rilpivirine/tenofovir disoproxil fumarate (Complera)
  • emtricitabine (Emtriva)
  • lamivudine (Epivir or Epivir-HBV)
  • methadone
  • abacavir sulfate, lamivudine and zidovudine (Trizivir)
  • abacavir sulfate (Ziagen)

Alcohol can also cause an adverse reaction when you are taking Epzicom.

Possible Side Effects of Epzicom

The following are severe and emergent side effects of Epzicom. Report to your medical provider immediately if you experience the following: 

  • heart-related conditions; Epzicom increases your risk for a heart attack (FDA, 2012)
  • hepatotoxicity, such as hepatomegaly with steatosis, that affects your liver functioning; symptoms of this condition include dark urine, decrease in appetite, fatigue, jaundice or yellowing skin, nausea, and tenderness over the liver
  • immune reconstitution syndrome, a condition that causes an inflammatory response in viruses in the blood, such as pneumonia or tuberculosis
  • lactic acidosis, a condition that causes excess amounts of acid to build up in your blood; this causes symptoms such as weakness, tiredness, difficulty breathing, stomach pain, feeling cold, or feeling dizzy
  • worsening of hepatitis B symptoms; a doctor should monitor a patient with hepatitis B and HIV for liver function closely

The following side effects may occur, but do not usually represent an emergency. Discuss them with your doctor or healthcare professional if they continue or are bothersome.

  • changes in the distribution of body fat, such as an increasing amount of fat on the neck
  • depression
  • diarrhea
  • dizziness
  • fever
  • headache
  • nausea or vomiting
  • rash
  • tiredness

This list may not describe all possible side effects. Call your doctor or healthcare provider for advice about side effects. You may report side effects to the FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.

Where Should I Keep Epzicom?

Epzicom should be stored at room temperature—somewhere between 59 to 86 degrees Fahrenheit or 15 to 30 degrees Celsius.

Remember, keep this and all other medicines out of the reach of children, never share your medicines with others, and use this medication only for the indication prescribed.

FDA WARNING: Epzicom carries a black box warning due to a risk for experiencing hypersensitivity skin reactions that can prove deadly. Examples of hypersensitivity symptoms include fever, rash, stomach upset, stomach pain and difficulty breathing. This risk is higher for those with the HLA-B*5701 gene. A physician can use a blood test to determine if a patient has this gene. A pharmacist will give you a warning card with a list of symptoms to be aware of. 

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Article Sources:

●      Abacavir/Lamivudine. (2013, August 23). National Institutes of Health. Retrieved October 20, 2013 from http://aidsinfo.nih.gov/drugs/407/abacavir---lamivudine/0/patient
●      Epzicom. (May 2012). FDA. Retrieved October 20, 2013 from http://www.fda.gov/downloads/Drugs/DrugSafety/ucm088592.pdf
●      Epzicom Prescribing Information (March 2009). FDA. Retrieved October 20, 2013 from http://www.accessdata.fda.gov/drugsatfda_docs/label/2009/021652s008lbl.pdf

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