Epzicom Warnings and Precautions

Before starting HIV treatment with Epzicom, warnings and precautions for the drug should be discussed with your healthcare provider. Epzicom may potentially cause lactic acidosis and hepatic steatosis, bone marrow depression, and a change in the distribution of fat on your body. You should not take Epzicom if you are allergic to any components of the medication or have decreased liver function.

Epzicom: What Should I Tell My Healthcare Provider?

You should talk with your healthcare provider prior to taking Epzicom™ (abacavir/lamivudine) if you have:
 
  • Hepatitis B
  • Liver disease, such as liver failure or cirrhosis
  • Kidney disease, such as kidney failure (renal failure)
  • Anemia, neutropenia, or any other low blood count or blood disorder
  • Any allergies, including allergies to food, dyes, or preservatives.
     
Also, let your healthcare provider know if you are:

 

  • Pregnant or thinking of becoming pregnant
  • Breastfeeding.
     
You should also be sure to tell your healthcare provider about all other medicines you are taking, including prescription and prescription medicines, vitamins, and herbal supplements.
 

Specific Precautions and Warnings for Epzicom

Warnings and precautions to be aware of prior to taking Epzicom include the following:
 
  • Abacavir (one of the components of Epzicom) often causes allergic reactions. These reactions can be extremely dangerous. Stop taking Epzicom and contact your healthcare provider immediately if you develop symptoms from two or more of the following groups of symptoms:

 

    • Group 1 -- Fever
    • Group 2 -- Rash
    • Group 3 -- Nausea, vomiting diarrhea, or abdominal pain (stomach pain)
    • Group 4 -- Extreme fatigue, a general ill feeling (malaise), or achiness
    • Group 5 -- Shortness of breath, cough, or a sore throat.
If you have ever had an allergic reaction to abacavir, you should never take Epzicom (or any other medication containing abacavir) ever again.
  • People with a certain gene known as HLA-B*5701 are much more likely to have serious allergic reactions to this medication. It is recommended that you be tested for this gene before starting this medication or before restarting it (even if you did not have problems in the past). In general, this medication is not recommended for people with this gene. It should be noted that serious allergic reactions can still occur in people that do not have this gene.

 

  • Studies of lamivudine (one of the components of Epzicom) for treating hepatitis B have suggested that the condition may worsen after lamivudine is stopped. If you have hepatitis B and you stop taking Epzicom, your healthcare provider may need to monitor you more closely. Epzicom has not been studied in people infected with both HIV and hepatitis B.

 

  • Epzicom can rarely cause a condition called lactic acidosis and hepatic steatosis. It is caused by damage to the liver and can be very dangerous. You are at higher risk for this side effect if you are obese or have liver disease.
     
  • Epzicom can cause bone marrow depression, which means that it can decrease the bone marrow's ability to produce blood cells. This can lead to a variety of problems, such as anemia, frequent infections, or bleeding. Your healthcare provider should check your blood counts frequently while you are taking Epzicom.
     
  • Epzicom can change the distribution of fat on your body. You may gain fat in areas that are not typical for you, such as in the abdomen or at the back of the neck (a "buffalo hump"), and may lose weight in other areas.

 

  • One study suggested that abacavir (one of the components of this medication) may increase the risk of a heart attack. Although further analysis (using the data from several studies) did not confirm this risk, your healthcare provider should take measures to identify and treat (if possible) any possible heart disease risk factors.

 

  • When you first start taking this medication and your immune system begins to recover, a group of problems known as immune reconstitution syndrome may occur. Your immune system may start aggressively reacting to any infections you may have and may cause extreme inflammation. There have even been cases of autoimmune disorders (such as Graves' disease, polymyositis, and Guillain-Barré syndrome) possibly caused by this problem. 

 

  • Epzicom is not a cure for HIV or AIDS. If you have HIV or AIDS, you should always use safer sex practices, regardless of whether you are taking medications.
     
  • As will all HIV medications, it is important that you take Epzicom exactly as prescribed. Missing doses may increase the chance of the virus becoming resistant to HIV medications.
     
  • The kidneys help remove Epzicom from the blood. Therefore, check with your healthcare provider before taking Epzicom if you have kidney disease.
     
  • Epzicom can interact with a number of different medications (see Epzicom Drug Interactions for more information).
     
  • Epzicom is considered a pregnancy Category C medication. This means that it may not be safe for use during pregnancy, although the full risks are not known (see Epzicom and Pregnancy).
     
  • Epzicom passes through breast milk. Therefore, if you are breastfeeding or plan to start, discuss this with your healthcare provider prior to taking the drug (see Epzicom and Breastfeeding). It is important to understand that the HIV virus can be transmitted through breast milk and that breastfeeding is usually not recommended in women with HIV or AIDS.
     

Epzicom HIV Medicine

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