Health Guide

Lamivudine (By mouth)

Lamivudine (la-MIV-ue-deen)

Treats hepatitis B and HIV infection. This medicine will not cure hepatitis B, HIV, or AIDS, but it may help slow the progress of the disease.

Brand Name(s):

Epivir, Epivir HBV

There may be other brand names for this medicine.

When This Medicine Should Not Be Used:

This medicine is not right for everyone. Do not use it if you had an allergic reaction to lamivudine.

How to Use This Medicine:

Liquid, Tablet

  • Your doctor will tell you how much medicine to use. Do not use more than directed.
  • Epivir® and Epivir-HBV™ both contain the same medicine, but Epivir® has more medicine in each tablet or dose of oral liquid. Use only the brand of this medicine that your doctor prescribed. If you have HIV or AIDS, you need to use Epivir®. If you have hepatitis B but you do not have HIV or AIDS, you can use Epivir-HBV™.
  • Your doctor may want to test you for HIV before you start using this medicine and during your treatment. Your medicine may need to be changed based on these test results.
  • Oral liquid: Measure the oral liquid medicine with a marked measuring spoon, oral syringe, or medicine cup.
  • Read and follow the patient instructions that come with this medicine. Talk to your doctor or pharmacist if you have any questions.
  • Missed dose: Take a dose as soon as you remember. If it is almost time for your next dose, wait until then and take a regular dose. Do not take extra medicine to make up for a missed dose.
  • Store the medicine in a closed container at room temperature, away from heat, moisture, and direct light.

Drugs and Foods to Avoid:

Ask your doctor or pharmacist before using any other medicine, including over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, and herbal products.

  • Do not use this medicine together with zalcitabine, medicines containing emtricitabine, or other combination medicines that contain lamivudine.
  • Some medicines can affect how lamivudine works. Tell your doctor if you are using interferon alfa, ribavirin, sorbitol, or trimethoprim.

Warnings While Using This Medicine:

  • Tell your doctor if you are pregnant, or if you have kidney disease, liver disease (including hepatitis C or D), diabetes, or a history of pancreas problems. Tell your doctor if you have had a liver transplant.
  • Do not breastfeed. You can spread HIV or AIDS to your baby through your breast milk.
  • This medicine may cause the following problems:
    • Lactic acidosis (too much acid in the blood)
    • Liver problems
    • Worsening of hepatitis B infection when treatment is stopped
    • Pancreatitis (swelling of the pancreas)
    • Changes in body fat
  • Your immune system may get stronger when you start taking this medicine. This could cause a hidden infection in your body to become active. Tell your doctor right away if you notice any changes in your health.
  • This medicine will not keep you from giving HIV or hepatitis B to others. Always practice safe sex, even if your partner also has HIV or hepatitis B. Do not share needles or items that could have blood or body fluids on them.
  • Your doctor will do lab tests at regular visits to check on the effects of this medicine. Keep all appointments.
  • Keep all medicine out of the reach of children. Never share your medicine with anyone.

Possible Side Effects While Using This Medicine:

Call your doctor right away if you notice any of these side effects:

  • Allergic reaction: Itching or hives, swelling in your face or hands, swelling or tingling in your mouth or throat, chest tightness, trouble breathing
  • Dark urine or pale stools, loss of appetite, yellow skin or eyes
  • Fast breathing, trouble breathing, lightheadedness, severe weakness, tiredness, confusion
  • Sudden and severe stomach pain, nausea, vomiting, fever

If you notice these less serious side effects, talk with your doctor:

  • Cough, stuffy or runny nose, sore throat
  • Diarrhea
  • Headache, dizziness
  • Numbness, tingling, or burning pain in your hands, arms, legs, or feet
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Weight gain around your neck, upper back, breast, face, or waist

If you notice other side effects that you think are caused by this medicine, tell your doctor

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

Last Updated: 7/4/2018
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