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Abacavir and Lamivudine (Epzicom®)


Brand names:


Often used for:

Treatment of HIV-1 infection

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What are abacavir and lamivudine?

Abacavir and lamivudine are 2 medicines combined to treat infection caused by the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). Both medicines belong to a group of medicines called nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors (NRTIs).

This combination medicine works to slow down how soon symptoms appear and may help slow the damage caused by HIV infection. This medicine does not cure HIV.

This medicine may be given in the clinic, hospital or at home.

The care team may order a genetic test called HLA-B. The genetic test will tell the care team the possibility of developing an allergic reaction to the medicine.

Your child’s care team will do blood tests to check your child’s response to these medicines.


May be given as a tablet by mouth

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Possible side effects

  • Headache
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Tiredness or fatigue
  • Stomach pain
  • Sore throat
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath
  • Low blood counts
  • Rash

If a rash develops during the first few weeks of taking this medicine and includes 2 of more side effects listed above, stop taking abacavir and lamivudine and contact your care team right away.

Symptoms of an allergic reaction may include rash, hives, itching, runny nose, fever, chills, headache, muscle ache, shortness of breath, coughing, tightness in the throat, dizziness, low blood pressure, pain in the chest, side, or back, swelling of the face or neck.

Not all patients who take this medicine will have these side effects. Common side effects are in bold, but there may be others. Report any symptoms or side effects to your doctor or pharmacist. Find more information on side effects.

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Tips for patients and families

Be sure to discuss all questions and instructions with your care provider or pharmacist. 

  • Tell all of your child's health care providers that your child is taking this medicine. This includes your child's doctors, nurses, pharmacists, and dentists.  

  • If your child stops taking this medicine for any reason, they should not restart it without talking to your care team. 

  • Do not give your child other medicines that contain alcohol or allow your child to drink alcohol while they take this medicine.  

  • It is important that patients tell the care team if they are sexually active, pregnant, or breastfeeding.   

Abacavir and lamivudine at home

  • This medicine can be taken with or without food. Take with food if stomach upset occurs. Taking the medicine with meals may lessen stomach problems. 
  • Swallow tablets whole. Do not crush, chew, or break unless directed by the pharmacist. 
  • Talk to your care team about ways to make swallowing the medicine easier.
  • In case of a missed dose, give the missed dose as soon as possible. If it is near the time for the next dose, skip the missed dose. Do not give 2 doses at the same time.   
  • Store at room temperature, away from heat and moisture.   
  • Some medicines may need to be protected from light. Follow instructions from the pharmacy.
  • Do not use the medicine past the expiration date.