Skip to content
Drugs & Medications

lamivudine

LAMIVUDINE

COMMON BRAND NAME(S): Epivir

GENERIC NAME(S): LAMIVUDINE

WARNINGS:

Rarely, lamivudine has caused a severe (sometimes fatal) liver and blood problem (lactic acidosis). Tell your doctor immediately if you develop symptoms of liver problems (persistent nausea, stomach/abdominal pain, dark urine, yellowing eyes/skin) or lactic acidosis (rapid breathing, drowsiness, muscle aches).

If you have hepatitis B infection along with HIV, your hepatitis symptoms may get worse or become very serious if you stop taking lamivudine. Talk with your doctor before stopping this medication. Your doctor will perform liver function tests for several months after you stop lamivudine. Tell your doctor immediately if you develop symptoms of worsening liver problems.

Different brands of this drug have different amounts of drug. Do not switch brands of this medication without first checking with your doctor. If you have HIV infection (with or without hepatitis B infection), you should be taking the higher-strength dosage. Consult your doctor or pharmacist.

Who should not take lamivudine?
See More

Uses

This drug is used with other HIV medications to help control HIV infection. It helps to decrease the amount of HIV in your body so your immune system can work better. This lowers your chance of getting HIV complications (such as new infections, cancer) and improves your quality of life. Lamivudine belongs to a class of drugs known as nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors-NRTI.

Lamivudine is not a cure for HIV infection. To decrease your risk of spreading HIV disease to others, do all of the following: (1) continue to take all HIV medications exactly as prescribed by your doctor, (2) always use an effective barrier method (latex or polyurethane condoms/dental dams) during all sexual activity, and (3) do not share personal items (such as needles/syringes, toothbrushes, and razors) that may have contacted blood or other body fluids. Consult your doctor or pharmacist for more details.

OTHER USES: This section contains uses of this drug that are not listed in the approved professional labeling for the drug but that may be prescribed by your health care professional. Use this drug for a condition that is listed in this section only if it has been so prescribed by your health care professional.

This medication may also be used in combination with other HIV medications to reduce the risk of getting HIV infection after contact with the virus. Consult your doctor for more details.

A lower-strength lamivudine product is used for hepatitis B infection in people without HIV infection.

How to use lamivudine

Read the Patient Information Leaflet provided by your pharmacist before you start taking lamivudine and each time you get a refill. If you have any questions, ask your doctor or pharmacist.

Take this medication by mouth with or without food, usually once or twice daily or as directed by your doctor.

Dosage is based on your medical condition and response to treatment.

It is very important to continue taking this medication (and other HIV medications) exactly as prescribed by your doctor. Do not skip any doses. Do not increase your dose, take this drug more often than prescribed, or stop taking it (or other HIV medicines) even for a short time unless directed to do so by your doctor. Skipping or changing your dose without approval from your doctor may cause the amount of virus to increase, make the infection more difficult to treat (resistant), or worsen side effects.

This medication works best when the amount of drug in your body is kept at a constant level. Therefore, take this drug at evenly spaced intervals. To help you remember, take it at the same time(s) each day.

Side Effects

See also Warning section.

Headache, dizziness, nausea, diarrhea, or trouble sleeping may occur. If any of these effects persist or worsen, notify your doctor or pharmacist promptly.

Remember that your doctor has prescribed this medication because he or she has judged that the benefit to you is greater than the risk of side effects. Many people using this medication do not have serious side effects.

Some people may experience worsening of a previous medical condition (such as an old infection) as their immune systems improve, or develop new conditions because their immune systems have become overactive. This reaction may occur at any time (soon after starting HIV treatment or many months later). Tell your doctor right away if you have any serious side effects, including: unexplained weight loss, persistent muscle aches/weakness, joint pain, numbness/tingling of the hands/feet/arms/legs, severe tiredness, vision changes, severe/persistent headaches, signs of infection (such as fever, chills, trouble breathing, cough, non-healing skin sores), signs of an overactive thyroid (such as irritability, nervousness, heat intolerance, fast/pounding/irregular heartbeat, bulging eyes, unusual growth in the neck/thyroid known as a goiter), signs of a certain nerve problem known as Guillain-Barre Syndrome (such as difficulty breathing/swallowing/moving your eyes, drooping face, paralysis, slurred speech).

Tell your doctor immediately if any of these unlikely but serious side effects occur: mental/mood changes (such as depression), stomach/back pain with nausea (pancreatitis).

Tell your doctor immediately if any of these rare but very serious side effects occur: easy bleeding/bruising, signs of anemia (unusual tiredness, rapid heartbeat, pale/bluish skin).

Changes in body fat (such as increased fat in the upper back and stomach areas, decreased fat in the arms and legs) may occur while you are taking HIV medication. The cause and long-term effects of these changes are unknown. Discuss the risks and benefits of therapy with your doctor, as well as the possible role of exercise to reduce this side effect.

A very serious allergic reaction to this drug is rare. However, seek immediate medical attention if you notice any symptoms of a serious allergic reaction, including: rash, itching/swelling (especially of the face/tongue/throat), severe dizziness, trouble breathing.

This is not a complete list of possible side effects. If you notice other effects not listed above, contact your doctor or pharmacist.

In the US -

Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to the FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.

In Canada - Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to Health Canada at 1-866-234-2345.

Precautions

Before taking lamivudine, tell your doctor or pharmacist if you are allergic to it; or if you have any other allergies. This product may contain inactive ingredients, which can cause allergic reactions or other problems. Talk to your pharmacist for more details.

Before using this medication, tell your doctor or pharmacist your medical history, especially of: pancreatitis, kidney problems, liver problems (such as hepatitis B or C, cirrhosis), alcohol use.

Avoid alcoholic beverages because they may increase your risk for liver problems and/or pancreatitis.

This drug may make you dizzy. Do not drive, use machinery, or do any activity that requires alertness until you are sure you can perform such activities safely. Avoid alcoholic beverages.

Before having surgery, tell your doctor or dentist about all the products you use (including prescription drugs, nonprescription drugs, and herbal products).

Caution is advised when using this drug in children because they may be more sensitive to the effects of the drug, especially the increased risk of pancreatitis.

Kidney function declines as you grow older. This medication is removed by the kidneys. Therefore, caution is advised when using this drug in older adults because they may be more sensitive to the effects of the drug.

During pregnancy, this medication should be used only when clearly needed. However, it is now normal to prescribe HIV medicines for pregnant women with HIV. This has been shown to decrease the risk of giving HIV to the baby. Lamivudine may be part of that treatment. Discuss the risks and benefits with your doctor.

Lamivudine passes into breast milk. Because breast milk can transmit HIV, do not breast-feed.

Interactions

The effects of some drugs can change if you take other drugs or herbal products at the same time. This can increase your risk for serious side effects or may cause your medications not to work correctly. These drug interactions are possible, but do not always occur. Your doctor or pharmacist can often prevent or manage interactions by changing how you use your medications or by close monitoring.

To help your doctor and pharmacist give you the best care, be sure to tell your doctor and pharmacist about all the products you use (including prescription drugs, nonprescription drugs, and herbal products) before starting treatment with this product. While using this product, do not start, stop, or change the dosage of any other medicines you are using without your doctor's approval.

Some products that may interact with this drug include: interferon, zalcitabine.

Emtricitabine is similar to lamivudine and should not be taken with this medication. Check the labels on all your HIV medicines because they may contain the same ingredients as found in this product. Taking too much of these drugs will not necessarily improve your condition, and may cause more side effects.

This document does not contain all possible interactions. Therefore, before using this product, tell your doctor or pharmacist of all the products you use. Keep a list of all your medications with you, and share the list with your doctor and pharmacist.

Overdose

If overdose is suspected, contact a poison control center or emergency room immediately. US residents can call their local poison control center at 1-800-222-1222. Canada residents can call a provincial poison control center.

Notes

Do not share this medication with others.

Laboratory and/or medical tests (such as kidney tests, liver tests, viral load, T-cell counts) should be performed periodically to monitor your progress or check for side effects. Consult your doctor for more details.

Keep all medical and laboratory appointments.

Missed Dose

If you miss a dose, take it as soon as you remember. If it is near the time of the next dose, skip the missed dose and resume your usual dosing schedule. Do not double the dose to catch up.

Storage

Store the US product at room temperature at 77 degrees F (25 degrees C) away from light and moisture. Brief storage between 59-86 degrees F (15-30 degrees C) is permitted. Do not store in the bathroom.

Store the Canadian product between 36-86 degrees F (2-30 degrees C) away from light and moisture. Do not store in the bathroom.

Keep all medicines away from children and pets.

Do not flush medications down the toilet or pour them into a drain unless instructed to do so. Properly discard this product when it is expired or no longer needed. Consult your pharmacist or local waste disposal company for more details about how to safely discard your product.

Information last revised March 2013. Copyright(c) 2013 First Databank, Inc.

Images

EPIVIR HBV 100 MG TABLET
EPIVIR HBV 100 MG TABLET
View Larger Picture
color
butterscotch
shape
oblong
imprint
GX CG5
LAMIVUDINE HBV 100 MG TABLET
LAMIVUDINE HBV 100 MG TABLET
View Larger Picture
color
pink
shape
oblong
imprint
37, I
LAMIVUDINE 150 MG TABLET
LAMIVUDINE 150 MG TABLET
View Larger Picture
color
white
shape
oblong
imprint
J, 1 6
EPIVIR 300 MG TABLET
EPIVIR 300 MG TABLET
View Larger Picture
color
gray
shape
No data.
imprint
GX EJ7
LAMIVUDINE 300 MG TABLET
LAMIVUDINE 300 MG TABLET
View Larger Picture
color
white
shape
oblong
imprint
17, J
EPIVIR HBV 100 MG TABLET
EPIVIR HBV 100 MG TABLET

Identification

color
butterscotch
shape
oblong
imprint
GX CG5
This medicine is a butterscotch, oblong, film-coated tablet imprinted with "GX CG5".
LAMIVUDINE HBV 100 MG TABLET
LAMIVUDINE HBV 100 MG TABLET

Identification

color
pink
shape
oblong
imprint
37, I
This medicine is a pink, oblong, film-coated tablet imprinted with "37" and "I".
LAMIVUDINE 150 MG TABLET
LAMIVUDINE 150 MG TABLET

Identification

color
white
shape
oblong
imprint
J, 1 6
This medicine is a white, oblong, scored, film-coated tablet imprinted with "J" and "1 6".
EPIVIR 300 MG TABLET
EPIVIR 300 MG TABLET

Identification

color
gray
shape
No data.
imprint
GX EJ7
This medicine is a gray, diamond, film-coated tablet imprinted with "GX EJ7".
LAMIVUDINE 300 MG TABLET
LAMIVUDINE 300 MG TABLET

Identification

color
white
shape
oblong
imprint
17, J
This medicine is a white, oblong, film-coated tablet imprinted with "17" and "J".

Add to Cabinet

Add Adderall to my medicine cabinet.

Did you know?

With WebMD's Medicine Cabinet, you can check interactions with drugs.

Go to medicine cabinet

Selected from data included with permission and copyrighted by First Databank, Inc. This copyrighted material has been downloaded from a licensed data provider and is not for distribution, expect as may be authorized by the applicable terms of use.

CONDITIONS OF USE: The information in this database is intended to supplement, not substitute for, the expertise and judgment of healthcare professionals. The information is not intended to cover all possible uses, directions, precautions, drug interactions or adverse effects, nor should it be construed to indicate that use of a particular drug is safe, appropriate or effective for you or anyone else. A healthcare professional should be consulted before taking any drug, changing any diet or commencing or discontinuing any course of treatment.

More about Drugs and Medications

Newsletters

Subscribe to free WebMD newsletters.

  • WebMD Daily

    WebMD Daily

    Subscribe to the WebMD Daily, and you'll get today's top health news and trending topics, and the latest and best information from WebMD.

  • Men's Health

    Men's Health

    Subscribe to the Men's Health newsletter for the latest on disease prevention, fitness, sex, nutrition, and more from WebMD.

  • Women's Health

    Women's Health

    Subscribe to the Women's Health newsletter for the latest on disease prevention, fitness, sex, diet, anti-aging, and more from WebMD.

By clicking Submit, I agree to the WebMD Terms & Conditions & Privacy Policy

URAC: Accredited Health Web Site TRUSTe online privacy certification HONcode Seal AdChoices