EPZICOM/KIVEXA (Abacavir/Lamivudine)
EPZICOM/KIVEXA (Abacavir/Lamivudine)
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EPZICOM/KIVEXA (Abacavir/Lamivudine)

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What is this medication?

EPZICOM/KIVEXA (Abacavir/Lamivudine)
AntiretroviralReverse Transcriptase Inhibitor; Nucleoside (Anti-HIV)

Brand Name US: Epzicom
Canadian Equivalent: Kivexa

EPZICOM/KIVEXA (Abacavir/Lamivudine) is indicated in antiretroviral combination therapy for the treatment of Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) infection.

Hepatic function should be monitored closely with both clinical and laboratory follow-up for at least several months in patients who discontinue KIVEXA.

Serious and sometimes fatal hypersensitivity reactions, with multiple organ involvement, have occurred with abacavir, a component of abacavir/lamivudine.
Patients who carry the HLA-B*5701 allele are at a higher risk of a hypersensitivity reaction to abacavir; although, hypersensitivity reactions have occurred in patients who do not carry HLA-B*5701 allele.
Abacavir is contraindicated in patients with a prior hypersensitivity reaction to abacavir and in HLA-B*5701–positive patients. All patients should be screened for the HLA-B*5701 allele prior to initiating therapy with abacavir/lamivudine or reinitiation of therapy with abacavir/lamivudine, unless patients have a previously documented HLA-B*5701 allele assessment. Discontinue abacavir/lamivudine immediately if a hypersensitivity reaction is suspected, regardless of HLA-B*5701 status and even when other diagnoses are possible.
Following a hypersensitivity reaction to abacavir/lamivudine, never restart abacavir/lamivudine or any abacavir-containing product because more severe symptoms, including death, can occur within hours. Similar severe reactions have also occurred rarely following the reintroduction of abacavir-containing products in patients who have no history of abacavir hypersensitivity.

Exacerbations of hepatitis B:
Severe acute exacerbations of hepatitis B have been reported in patients who are co-infected with hepatitis B virus (HBV) and HIV-1 and have discontinued lamivudine, which is a component of abacavir/lamivudine. Hepatic function should be closely monitored with both clinical and laboratory follow-up for at least several months in patients who discontinue abacavir/lamivudine and are coinfected with HIV-1 and HBV. If appropriate, initiation of antihepatitis B therapy may be warranted.

How does this medication work? 

Abacavir is converted to the active metabolite, carbovir triphosphate which inhibits the activity of HIV-1 reverse transcriptase both by competing with dGTP and by its incorporation into viral DNA. Lamivudine is phosphorylated within the cell to its active 5′-triphosphate metabolite, lamivudine triphosphate. This active metabolite inhibits reverse transcriptase via DNA chain termination after incorporation of the nucleotide analogue.

How should I take this medication? 

Oral: Take one tablet (abacavir 600 mg/lamivudine 300 mg) once daily.

How to Take: Administer with or without food at the same time each day.

What should I watch for while using this medication? 

Before starting EPZICOM/KIVEXA (Abacavir/Lamivudine), make sure your physician is aware of any allergies or medications you currently take, if you have the HLA-B*5701 allele, if you have chronic hepatitis B, coronary heart disease, liver disease, or kidney disease.  EPZICOM/KIVEXA (Abacavir/Lamivudine) use has been associated with rare but serious adverse events such as hypersensitivity reactions, immune reconstitution syndrome, lactic acidosis, and hepatomegaly.

What if I miss a dose?

If you miss a dose of medication, try to take it as soon as possible. However, if it is almost time for your next dose, take only that scheduled dose. Do not take double or extra doses.

How should I store this medication?

Keep out of the reach of children at all times. Store at room temperature, 59 to 86° F (15 to 30° C). Protect from light. Keep the container tightly closed. Properly dispose of any unused medication after the expiration date.

What are the possible side effects of using this medication?

The most serious side effects that can occur when taking EPZICOM/KIVEXA (Abacavir/Lamivudine) are lactic acidosis.  Symptoms of lactic acidosis include feeling of weakness, loss of appetite, sudden unexplained weight loss, upset stomach and difficulty breathing or rapid breathing.  Some HIV medications can increase your risk of having a heart attack, infections and/or inflammatory syndrome.

Other possible side effects include skin rash, nausea, diarrhea, pancreatitis, sore throat, vomiting, neutropenia, increased serum alanine aminotransferase, hepatomegaly, infection, musculoskeletal pain, nasal signs and symptoms, cough, fever, headache, fatigue, malaise, paresthesia, peripheral neuropathy, neuropathy, insomnia, sleep disorder.

Note this is not a complete list of side effects for EPZICOM/KIVEXA (Abacavir/Lamivudine), only common ones.