November 29, 2015
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Included as part of the PRECAUTIONS section.


Hematologic Toxicity/Bone Marrow Suppression

Zidovudine, a component of COMBIVIR, has been associated with hematologic toxicity including neutropenia and anemia, particularly in patients with advanced HIV-1 disease. COMBIVIR should be used with caution in patients who have bone marrow compromise evidenced by granulocyte count less than 1,000 cells per mm³ or hemoglobin less than 9.5 grams per dL [see ADVERSE REACTIONS].

Frequent blood counts are strongly recommended in patients with advanced HIV-1 disease who are treated with COMBIVIR. Periodic blood counts are recommended for other HIV-1-infected patients. If anemia or neutropenia develops, dosage interruption may be needed.


Myopathy and myositis, with pathological changes similar to that produced by HIV-1 disease, have been associated with prolonged use of zidovudine, and therefore may occur with therapy with COMBIVIR.

Lactic Acidosis And Severe Hepatomegaly With Steatosis

Lactic acidosis and severe hepatomegaly with steatosis, including fatal cases, have been reported with the use of nucleoside analogues and other antiretrovirals. See full prescribing information for EPIVIR (lamivudine) and RETROVIR (zidovudine). Treatment with COMBIVIR should be suspended in any patient who develops clinical or laboratory findings suggestive of lactic acidosis or pronounced hepatotoxicity (which may include hepatomegaly and steatosis even in the absence of marked transaminase elevations).

Patients With Hepatitis B Virus Co-infection

Posttreatment Exacerbations of Hepatitis

Clinical and laboratory evidence of exacerbations of hepatitis have occurred after discontinuation of lamivudine. See full prescribing information for EPIVIR (lamivudine). Patients should be closely monitored with both clinical and laboratory follow-up for at least several months after stopping treatment.

Emergence of Lamivudine-resistant HBV

Safety and efficacy of lamivudine have not been established for treatment of chronic hepatitis B in subjects dually infected with HIV-1 and HBV. Emergence of hepatitis B virus variants associated with resistance to lamivudine has been reported in HIV-1-infected subjects who have received lamivudine-containing antiretroviral regimens in the presence of concurrent infection with hepatitis B virus. See full prescribing information for EPIVIR (lamivudine).

Related Products That Are Not Recommended

COMBIVIR is a fixed-dose combination of 2 nucleoside analogue reverse transcriptase inhibitors (lamivudine and zidovudine). Concomitant administration of COMBIVIR with other products containing lamivudine or zidovudine is not recommended. In addition, do not administer COMBIVIR in combination with products containing emtricitabine.

Use With Interferon-And Ribavirin-Based Regimens

Patients receiving interferon alfa with or without ribavirin and COMBIVIR should be closely monitored for treatment-associated toxicities, especially hepatic decompensation, neutropenia, and anemia. See full prescribing information for EPIVIR (lamivudine) and RETROVIR (zidovudine). Discontinuation of COMBIVIR should be considered as medically appropriate. Dose reduction or discontinuation of interferon alfa, ribavirin, or both should also be considered if worsening clinical toxicities are observed, including hepatic decompensation (e.g., Child-Pugh greater than 6) (see full prescribing information for interferon and ribavirin).

Exacerbation of anemia has been reported in HIV-1/HCV co-infected patients receiving ribavirin and zidovudine. Coadministration of ribavirin and COMBIVIR is not advised.


COMBIVIR should be used with caution in patients with a history of pancreatitis or other significant risk factors for the development of pancreatitis. Treatment with COMBIVIR should be stopped immediately if clinical signs, symptoms, or laboratory abnormalities suggestive of pancreatitis occur [see ADVERSE REACTIONS].

Immune Reconstitution Syndrome

Immune reconstitution syndrome has been reported in patients treated with combination antiretroviral therapy, including COMBIVIR. During the initial phase of combination antiretroviral treatment, patients whose immune systems respond may develop an inflammatory response to indolent or residual opportunistic infections (such as Mycobacterium avium infection, cytomegalovirus, Pneumocystis jirovecii pneumonia [PCP], or tuberculosis), which may necessitate further evaluation and treatment.

Autoimmune disorders (such as Graves' disease, polymyositis, and Guillain-Barré syndrome) have also been reported to occur in the setting of immune reconstitution; however, the time to onset is more variable, and can occur many months after initiation of treatment.

Fat Redistribution

Redistribution/accumulation of body fat including central obesity, dorsocervical fat enlargement (buffalo hump), peripheral wasting, facial wasting, breast enlargement, and “cushingoid appearance” have been observed in patients receiving antiretroviral therapy. The mechanism and long-term consequences of these events are currently unknown. A causal relationship has not been established.

Nonclinical Toxicology

Carcinogenesis, Mutagenesis, Impairment Of Fertility


Lamivudine: Long-term carcinogenicity studies with lamivudine in mice and rats showed no evidence of carcinogenic potential at exposures up to 10 times (mice) and 58 times (rats) the human exposures at the recommended dose of 300 mg.

Zidovudine: Zidovudine was administered orally at 3 dosage levels to separate groups of mice and rats (60 females and 60 males in each group). Initial single daily doses were 30, 60, and 120 mg per kg per day in mice and 80, 220, and 600 mg per kg per day in rats. The doses in mice were reduced to 20, 30, and 40 mg per kg per day after day 90 because of treatment-related anemia, whereas in rats only the high dose was reduced to 450 mg per kg per day on day 91 and then to 300 mg per kg per day on day 279.

In mice, 7 late-appearing (after 19 months) vaginal neoplasms (5 nonmetastasizing squamous cell carcinomas, 1 squamous cell papilloma, and 1 squamous polyp) occurred in animals given the highest dose. One late-appearing squamous cell papilloma occurred in the vagina of a middle-dose animal. No vaginal tumors were found at the lowest dose.

In rats, 2 late-appearing (after 20 months), nonmetastasizing vaginal squamous cell carcinomas occurred in animals given the highest dose. No vaginal tumors occurred at the low or middle dose in rats. No other drug-related tumors were observed in either sex of either species.

At doses that produced tumors in mice and rats, the estimated drug exposure (as measured by AUC) was approximately 3 times (mouse) and 24 times (rat) the estimated human exposure at the recommended therapeutic dose of 100 mg every 4 hours.

It is not known how predictive the results of rodent carcinogenicity studies may be for humans.


Lamivudine: Lamivudine was mutagenic in an L5178Y mouse lymphoma assay and clastogenic in a cytogenetic assay using cultured human lymphocytes. Lamivudine was not mutagenic in a microbial mutagenicity assay, in an in vitro cell transformation assay, in a rat micronucleus test, in a rat bone marrow cytogenetic assay, and in an assay for unscheduled DNA synthesis in rat liver.

Zidovudine: Zidovudine was mutagenic in an L5178Y mouse lymphoma assay, positive in an in vitro cell transformation assay, clastogenic in a cytogenetic assay using cultured human lymphocytes, and positive in mouse and rat micronucleus tests after repeated doses. It was negative in a cytogenetic study in rats given a single dose.

Impairment of Fertility

Lamivudine: Lamivudine did not affect male or female fertility in rats at a dose associated with exposures approximately 130 times higher than the exposure in humans at the dose of 300 mg.

Zidovudine: Zidovudine, administered to male and female rats at doses up to 7 times the usual adult dose based on body surface area considerations, had no effect on fertility judged by conception rates.

Use In Specific Populations


Pregnancy Category C

Pregnancy Exposure Registry

There is a pregnancy exposure registry that monitors pregnancy outcomes in women exposed to COMBIVIR during pregnancy. Physicians are encouraged to register patients by calling the Antiretroviral Pregnancy Registry at 1-800-258-4263.

Fetal Risk Summary

There are no adequate and well-controlled trials of COMBIVIR (lamivudine and zidovudine) in pregnant women. Clinical trial data demonstrate that maternal zidovudine treatment during pregnancy reduces vertical transmission of HIV-1 infection to the fetus. Animal reproduction studies performed with lamivudine and zidovudine showed increased embryotoxicity and fetal malformations (zidovudine), and increased embryolethality (lamivudine). COMBIVIR should be used during pregnancy only if the potential benefit justifies the potential risk to the fetus.

Clinical Considerations

Treatment of HIV during pregnancy optimizes the health of both mother and fetus. Clinical trial data reviewed by FDA demonstrate that maternal zidovudine treatment significantly reduces vertical transmission of HIV-1 infection to the fetus [see Clinical Studies]. Published data suggest that combination antiretroviral regimens may reduce the rate of vertical transmission even further.

Pharmacokinetics of lamivudine and zidovudine in pregnant women are similar to the pharmacokinetics in non-pregnant women. No dose adjustments are needed during pregnancy.

In a clinical trial, adverse events among HIV-1-infected women were not different among untreated women and women treated with zidovudine. It is not known whether risks of adverse events associated with lamivudine are altered in pregnant women compared with other HIV-1-infected patients (see Human data below).


Human Data: Lamivudine: Lamivudine pharmacokinetics were studied in pregnant women during 2 clinical trials conducted in South Africa. The trial assessed pharmacokinetics in: 16 women at 36 weeks gestation using 150 mg lamivudine twice daily with zidovudine, 10 women at 38 weeks gestation using 150 mg lamivudine twice daily with zidovudine, and 10 women at 38 weeks gestation using lamivudine 300 mg twice daily without other antiretrovirals. Lamivudine pharmacokinetics in pregnant women were similar to those seen in non-pregnant adults and in postpartum women. Lamivudine concentrations were generally similar in maternal, neonatal, and umbilical cord serum samples.

Zidovudine: In a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial was conducted in HIV-1-infected pregnant women to determine the utility of zidovudine for the prevention of maternal-fetal HIV-1 transmission. Zidovudine treatment during pregnancy reduced the rate of maternal-fetal HIV-1 transmission from 24.9% for infants born to placebo-treated mothers to 7.8% for infants born to mothers treated with zidovudine. There were no differences in pregnancy-related adverse events between the treatment groups. Congenital abnormalities occurred with similar frequency between neonates born to mothers who received zidovudine and neonates born to mothers who received placebo. The observed abnormalities included problems in embryogenesis (prior to 14 weeks) or were recognized on ultrasound before or immediately after initiation of trial drug [see Clinical Studies].

Zidovudine pharmacokinetics were studied in a Phase 1 trial of 8 women during the last trimester of pregnancy. As pregnancy progressed, there was no evidence of drug accumulation. The pharmacokinetics of zidovudine were similar to that of non-pregnant adults. Consistent with passive transmission of the drug across the placenta, zidovudine concentrations in neonatal plasma at birth were essentially equal to those in maternal plasma at delivery.

Animal Data: Lamivudine: Animal reproduction studies performed at oral doses up to 130 and 60 times the adult dose in rats and rabbits, respectively, revealed no evidence of teratogenicity due to lamivudine. Increased early embryolethality occurred in rabbits at exposure levels similar to those in humans. However, there was no indication of this effect in rats at exposure levels up to 35 times those in humans. Based on animal studies, lamivudine crosses the placenta and is transferred to the fetus [see Nonclinical Toxicology].

Zidovudine: Increased fetal resorptions occurred in pregnant rats and rabbits treated with doses of zidovudine that produced drug plasma concentrations 66 to 226 times (rats) and 12 to 87 times (rabbits) the mean steady-state peak human plasma concentration following a single 100-mg dose of zidovudine. There were no other reported developmental anomalies. In another developmental toxicity study, pregnant rats received zidovudine up to near-lethal doses that produced peak plasma concentrations 350 times peak human plasma concentrations (300 times the daily exposure [AUC] in humans given 600 mg per day zidovudine). This dose was associated with marked maternal toxicity and an increased incidence of fetal malformations. However, there were no signs of teratogenicity at doses up to one-fifth the lethal dose [see Nonclinical Toxicology].


The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend that HIV-1-infected mothers in the United States not breastfeed their infants to avoid risking postnatal transmission of HIV-1 infection. Because of the potential for HIV-1 transmission mothers should be instructed not to breastfeed.

Pediatric Use

COMBIVIR is not recommended for use in pediatric patients who weigh less than 30 kg because it is a fixed-dose combination tablet that cannot be adjusted for this patient population [see DOSAGE AND ADMINISTRATION].

Geriatric Use

Clinical trials of COMBIVIR did not include sufficient numbers of subjects aged 65 and over to determine whether they respond differently from younger subjects. In general, caution should be exercised in the administration of COMBIVIR in elderly patients reflecting the greater frequency of decreased hepatic, renal, or cardiac function, and of concomitant disease or other drug therapy [see CLINICAL PHARMACOLOGY].

Patients With Impaired Renal Function

COMBIVIR is not recommended for patients with creatinine clearance less than 50 mL per min because COMBIVIR is a fixed-dose combination and the dosage of the individual components cannot be adjusted. If a dose reduction of the lamivudine or zidovudine components of COMBIVIR is required for patients with renal impairment then the individual components should be used [see DOSAGE AND ADMINISTRATION, CLINICAL PHARMACOLOGY].

Patients With Impaired Hepatic Function

COMBIVIR is a fixed-dose combination and the dosage of the individual components cannot be adjusted. Zidovudine is primarily eliminated by hepatic metabolism and zidovudine concentrations are increased in patients with impaired hepatic function, which may increase the risk of hematologic toxicity. Frequent monitoring of hematologic toxicities is advised.

This monograph has been modified to include the generic and brand name in many instances.

Last reviewed on RxList: 12/16/2011


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