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Info about 3TC

Brand Name(s): 3TC, Epivir, Epivir-HBV

Generic Name Lamivudine

What are lamivudine tablets?

LAMIVUDINE, 3TC (Epivir®, Epivir®—HBV™) is an antiviral drug called a nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitor or NRTI. Lamivudine is used to treat infections due to hepatitis B and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). When used for hepatitis B, lamivudine can slow the damage to your liver. When used for HIV lamivudine may reduce the amount of HIV in the blood and increase the number of CD4 cells (T-cells) in the blood. When used to treat HIV, lamivudine is used in combination with other medicines for HIV. Lamivudine will not cure or prevent hepatitis B infection, HIV infection, or AIDS. You may still develop other infections or conditions associated with your infection. Generic lamivudine tablets are not yet available.

What should my health care professional know before I take lamivudine?

They need to know if you have any of these conditions:

  • If you frequently drink alcohol-containing beverages
  • kidney disease
  • organ transplant
  • other liver disease
  • pancreatitis
  • tingling or numbness in the hands or feet
  • an unusual or allergic reaction to lamivudine, other medicines, foods, dyes, or preservatives
  • pregnant or trying to get pregnant
  • breast-feeding

How should I take this medicine?

Take lamivudine tablets by mouth. Follow the directions on the prescription label. Swallow tablets with a drink of water. If lamivudine upsets your stomach, you can take it with food. If you find it difficult to swallow the tablets, ask your prescriber or health care professional if you can take lamivudine oral solution. Take your doses at regular intervals. Do not take your medicine more often than directed.

To help to make sure that your anti-HIV therapy works as well as possible, be very careful to take all of your medicine exactly as prescribed. Do not stop taking except on your prescriber's advice.

Contact your pediatrician or health care professional regarding the use of this medicine in children. Special care may be needed.

What if I miss a dose?

If you miss a dose, take it as soon as you can. If it is almost time for your next dose, take only that dose. Do not take double or extra doses.

What drug(s) may interact with lamivudine?

  • amiloride
  • dofetilide
  • entecavir
  • indinavir
  • metformin
  • memantine
  • procainamide
  • ribavirin
  • sulfamethoxazole; trimethoprim, SMX-TMP (Bactrim®, Septra®)
  • trimethoprim
  • zalcitabine, ddC

Epivir®-HBV™ tablets contain a lower dose of the same drug (lamivudine) as Epivir® Oral solution and tablets, Combivir®, and Trizivir®; therefore, Epivir®-HBV™ tablets should not be taken with any of these products. Discuss any changes in your treatment with your health care provider.

Tell your prescriber or health care professional about all other medicines you are taking, including nonprescription medicines, nutritional supplements, or herbal products. Also tell your prescriber or health care professional if you are a frequent user of drinks with caffeine or alcohol, if you smoke, or if you use illegal drugs. These may affect the way your medicine works. Check with your health care professional before stopping or starting any of your medicines.

What side effects may I notice from taking lamivudine?

Side effects that you should report to your prescriber or health care professional as soon as possible:

  • breathing difficulties or shortness of breath
  • changes in body appearance (weight gain around waist and/or face)
  • dizziness
  • muscle aches, pains, or weakness
  • pain, tingling, or numbness in the hands or feet
  • passing out or fainting
  • severe vomiting or diarrhea
  • slow or irregular heartbeat
  • symptoms of high blood sugar: dizziness, dry mouth, flushed dry-skin, fruit-like breath odor, loss of appetite, nausea, stomach ache, unusual thirst, frequent passing of urine.
  • unusual stomach pain or discomfort
  • unusual weakness, fatigue or discomfort
  • worsening jaundice or other signs of hepatitis

Side effects that usually do not require medical attention (report to your prescriber or health care professional if they continue or are bothersome):

  • cough
  • diarrhea
  • nausea, vomiting
  • difficulty sleeping
  • hair loss
  • headache
  • runny or stuffy nose
  • skin rash

What should I watch for while taking lamivudine?

Visit your prescriber or health care professional for regular checks on your progress. Discuss any new symptoms with your prescriber or health care professional.

Lamivudine will not cure HIV or hepatitis B infection and you can still get other illnesses or complications associated with your disease. Taking lamivudine does not reduce the risk of passing HIV or hepatitis B infection to others through sexual or blood contact. It is best to avoid sexual contact so that you do not spread the disease to others. For any sexual contact, use a condom. Be careful about cuts, abrasions and other possible sources of blood contact. Never share a needle or syringe with anyone.

The doses of lamivudine are different depending upon the disease for which you are being treated. If you are receiving lamivudine for hepatitis B infection only, you should be tested for HIV prior to starting and during treatment to avoid inappropriate therapy for HIV. Patients with both HIV and hepatitis B who are planning to change their HIV treatment regimen to a regimen that does not contain lamivudine should discuss continued therapy for hepatitis B with their prescriber or health care professional. Some people have worsening of hepatitis after stopping lamivudine therapy.

Tell your prescriber or health care professional if you get tingling, pain or numbness in your hands or feet.

Tell your prescriber or health care professional at once, especially for children less than 12 years of age, if you have nausea and vomiting accompanied by severe stomach pain.

Where can I keep my medicine?

Keep out of the reach of children in a container that small children cannot open.

Store between 2 and 30 °C (36 and 86 °F). Keep the container tightly closed. Throw away any unused medicine after the expiration date.


(Note: The above information is not intended to replace the advice of your physician, pharmacist, or other healthcare professional. It is not meant to indicate that the use of the product is safe, appropriate, or effective for you.)

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