Epzicom® is a brand name for the combination of two generic medications, abacavir and lamivudine. It is an antiviral drug prescribed to treat human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). Doctors may prescribe additional medications to take along with Epzicom®. This drug is not a cure for HIV, but it may help manage the disease, as well as reduce the risk of HIV complications, such as secondary infections or cancer. It is classified as nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitor (NRTI), which means that it works by preventing the replication of the virus.
This medication is available in the form of a tablet. Patients will typically take it once daily, with or without food. The exact dosage will vary, depending on the patient, however adults will typically take a tablet that contains 300 milligrams (mg) of lamivudine and 600 mg of abacavir.
Certain complications are associated with the use of Epzicom®. It may increase the risk of a heart attack, so patients should discuss risk factors for heart disease with the prescribing physician. Some patients may develop lactic acidosis, which is the buildup of lactic acid in the bloodstream. Patients who experience symptoms of lactic acidosis, such as problems breathing, dizziness, and rapid heartbeat, should get emergency medical help. The doctor will likely order a blood test before prescribing Epzicom® to ensure the patient can take it safely.
Epzicom® may cause certain side effects, such as insomnia, odd dreams, and headache. Anxiety and mild diarrhea may also occur. Some patients experience changes in body shape or body fat. For example, the arms and legs may lose body fat, while the stomach and back may gain it.
Patients should contact a doctor immediately if they experience more serious side effects from Epzicom®. In addition to symptoms of lactic acidosis, patients may experience numbness and tingling, unusual changes in mood, and unusual bruising or bleeding. Nausea, vomiting, and fever, as well as back or abdominal pain are possible signs of pancreatitis. Flu-like symptoms, white sores in the mouth, and jaundice have also been reported.
Other medical conditions should be disclosed before the physician prescribes Epzicom®. Patients may need an adjusted dose if they have kidney disease, heart disease, or potential risk factors, such as high cholesterol, diabetes, or tobacco use. As of 2011, it is unknown whether Epzicom® can cause birth defects. Women who are breastfeeding should not use this drug, as lamivudine may pass into breast milk.
The patient should also disclose his other medications and supplements. This drug may interact with methadone, tipranavir, and interferon. Patients should also not take ribavirin and other drugs that contain either lamivudine or abacavir.