December 1, 2015
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"The study of 18 patients is the first to show that the drug does not require the presence of herpes simplex virus 2 (HSV-2) to suppress HIV in patients. The researchers hope to confirm their results in a larger study.

"These findings ar"...




Included as part of the PRECAUTIONS section.


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. A majority of these cases have been in women. Obesity and prolonged nucleoside exposure may be risk factors. Caution should be exercised when administering EPIVIR to any patient with known risk factors for liver disease; however, cases also have been reported in patients with no known risk factors. Treatment with EPIVIR 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. These exacerbations have been detected primarily by serum ALT elevations in addition to re-emergence of HBV DNA. Although most events appear to have been self-limited, fatalities have been reported in some cases. Similar events have been reported from postmarketing experience after changes from lamivudine-containing HIV-1 treatment regimens to non-lamivudine-containing regimens in patients infected with both HIV-1 and HBV. The causal relationship to discontinuation of lamivudine treatment is unknown. Patients should be closely monitored with both clinical and laboratory follow-up for at least several months after stopping treatment.

Important Differences among Lamivudine-containing Products

EPIVIR tablets and oral solution contain a higher dose of the same active ingredient (lamivudine) than EPIVIR-HBV tablets and EPIVIR-HBV oral solution. EPIVIR-HBV was developed for patients with chronic hepatitis B. The formulation and dosage of lamivudine in EPIVIR-HBV are not appropriate for patients co-infected with HIV-1 and HBV. Safety and efficacy of lamivudine have not been established for treatment of chronic hepatitis B in patients co-infected with HIV-1 and HBV. If treatment with EPIVIR-HBV is prescribed for chronic hepatitis B for a patient with unrecognized or untreated HIV-1 infection, rapid emergence of HIV-1 resistance is likely to result because of the subtherapeutic dose and the inappropriateness of monotherapy HIV-1 treatment. If a decision is made to administer lamivudine to patients co-infected with HIV-1 and HBV, EPIVIR tablets, EPIVIR oral solution, or another product containing the higher dose of lamivudine should be used as part of an appropriate combination regimen.

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 (see full prescribing information for EPIVIR-HBV). Emergence of hepatitis B virus variants associated with resistance to lamivudine has also been reported in HIV-1-infected subjects who have received lamivudine-containing antiretroviral regimens in the presence of concurrent infection with hepatitis B virus.

Related Products That Are Not Recommended

EPIVIR is one of multiple lamivudine-containing products. Concomitant administration of EPIVIR with other products containing lamivudine is not recommended. Concomitant use of EPIVIR with emtricitabine-containing products is also not recommended.

Use With Interferon-And Ribavirin-based Regimens

In vitro studies have shown ribavirin can reduce the phosphorylation of pyrimidine nucleoside analogues such as lamivudine. Although no evidence of a pharmacokinetic or pharmacodynamic interaction (e.g., loss of HIV-1/HCV virologic suppression) was seen when ribavirin was coadministered with lamivudine in HIV-1/HCV co-infected patients [see CLINICAL PHARMACOLOGY], hepatic decompensation (some fatal) has occurred in HIV-1/HCV co-infected patients receiving combination antiretroviral therapy for HIV-1 and interferon alfa with or without ribavirin. Patients receiving interferon alfa with or without ribavirin and EPIVIR should be closely monitored for treatment-associated toxicities, especially hepatic decompensation. Discontinuation of EPIVIR 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 the full prescribing information for interferon and ribavirin.


In pediatric patients with a history of prior antiretroviral nucleoside exposure, a history of pancreatitis, or other significant risk factors for the development of pancreatitis, EPIVIR should be used with caution. Treatment with EPIVIR 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 EPIVIR. 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.

Patient Counseling Information

Advise the patient to read the FDA-approved patient labeling (PATIENT INFORMATION).

Lactic Acidosis/Hepatomegaly

Inform patients that some HIV medicines, including EPIVIR, can cause a rare, but serious condition called lactic acidosis with liver enlargement (hepatomegaly) [see WARNINGS AND PRECAUTIONS].

Patients with Hepatitis B or C Co-infection

Inform patients co-infected with HIV-1 and HBV that deterioration of liver disease has occurred in some cases when treatment with lamivudine was discontinued. Advise patients to discuss any changes in regimen with their physician [see WARNINGS AND PRECAUTIONS].

Inform patients with HIV-1/HCV co-infection that hepatic decompensation (some fatal) has occurred in HIV-1/HCV co-infected patients receiving combination antiretroviral therapy for HIV-1 and interferon alfa with or without ribavirin [see WARNINGS AND PRECAUTIONS].

Differences in Formulations of EPIVIR

Advise patients that EPIVIR tablets and oral solution contain a higher dose of the same active ingredient (lamivudine) as EPIVIR-HBV tablets and oral solution. If a decision is made to include lamivudine in the HIV-1 treatment regimen of a patient co-infected with HIV-1 and HBV, the formulation and dosage of lamivudine in EPIVIR (not EPIVIR-HBV) should be used [see WARNINGS AND PRECAUTIONS].

Related Products that are Not Recommended


Risk of Pancreatitis

Advise parents or guardians to monitor pediatric patients for signs and symptoms of pancreatitis [see WARNINGS AND PRECAUTIONS].

Immune Reconstitution Syndrome

In some patients with advanced HIV infection, signs and symptoms of inflammation from previous infections may occur soon after anti-HIV treatment is started. It is believed that these symptoms are due to an improvement in the body's immune response, enabling the body to fight infections that may have been present with no obvious symptoms. Advise patients to inform their healthcare provider immediately of any symptoms of infection [see WARNINGS AND PRECAUTIONS].

Redistribution/Accumulation of Body Fat

Inform patients that redistribution or accumulation of body fat may occur in patients receiving antiretroviral therapy and that the cause and long-term health effects of these conditions are not known at this time [see WARNINGS AND PRECAUTIONS].

Sucrose Content of EPIVIR Oral Solution

Advise diabetic patients that each 15-mL dose of EPIVIR oral solution contains 3 grams of sucrose (1 mL = 200 mg of sucrose) [see DESCRIPTION].

Information about HIV-1 Infection

EPIVIR is not a cure for HIV-1 infection and patients may continue to experience illnesses associated with HIV-1 infection, including opportunistic infections. Patients must remain on continuous HIV therapy to control HIV-1 infection and decrease HIV-related illness. Patients should be told that sustained decreases in plasma HIV-1 RNA have been associated with a reduced risk of progression to AIDS and death.

Advise patients to remain under the care of a physician when using EPIVIR. Advise patients to take all HIV medications exactly as prescribed. Advise patients to avoid doing things that can spread HIV-1 infection to others.

Advise patients not to re-use or share needles or other injection equipment.

Advise patients not to share personal items that can have blood or body fluids on them, like toothbrushes and razor blades.

Advise patients to always practice safer sex by using a latex or polyurethane condom to lower the chance of sexual contact with semen, vaginal secretions, or blood.

Female patients should be advised not to breastfeed. Mothers with HIV-1 should not breastfeed because HIV-1 can be passed to the baby in the breast milk.

Instruct patients that if they miss a dose of EPIVIR, they should take it as soon as they remember. Patients should not double their next dose or take more than the prescribed dose. If they are not sure about their dosing, they should call their healthcare provider.

Nonclinical Toxicology

Carcinogenesis, Mutagenesis, Impairment Of Fertility


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.


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. Lamivudine showed no evidence of in vivo genotoxic activity in the rat at oral doses of up to 2,000 mg per kg, producing plasma levels of 35 to 45 times those in humans at the recommended dose for HIV-1 infection.

Impairment of Fertility

In a study of reproductive performance, lamivudine administered to rats at doses up to 4,000 mg per kg per day, producing plasma levels 47 to 70 times those in humans, revealed no evidence of impaired fertility and no effect on the survival, growth, and development to weaning of the offspring.

Use In Specific Populations


Pregnancy Exposure Registry

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

Risk Summary

Available data from the Antiretroviral Pregnancy Registry show no difference in the risk of overall major birth defects for lamivudine compared with the background rate for major birth defects of 2.7% in the US reference population of the Metropolitan Atlanta Congenital Defects Program (MACDP). Lamivudine produced embryonic toxicity in rabbits at a dose that produced similar human exposures as the recommended clinical dose. The relevance of animal findings to human pregnancy registry data is not known.


Human Data: Based on prospective reports from the Antiretroviral Pregnancy Registry of over 11,000 exposures to lamivudine during pregnancy resulting in live births (including over 4,300 exposed in the first trimester), there was no difference between lamivudine and overall birth defects compared with the background birth defect rate of 2.7% in the US reference population of the MACDP. The prevalence of defects in the first trimester was 3.1% (95% CI: 2.6% to 3.7%).

Lamivudine pharmacokinetics were studied in pregnant women during 2 clinical trials conducted in South Africa. The trials 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. These trials were not designed or powered to provide efficacy information. 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. In a subset of subjects, amniotic fluid specimens were collected following natural rupture of membranes and confirmed that lamivudine crosses the placenta in humans. Amniotic fluid concentrations of lamivudine were typically 2 times greater than maternal serum levels and ranged from 1.2 to 2.5 mcg per mL (150 mg twice daily) and 2.1 to 5.2 mcg per mL (300 mg twice daily).

Animal Data: Studies in pregnant rats showed that lamivudine is transferred to the fetus through the placenta. Reproduction studies with orally administered lamivudine have been performed in rats and rabbits at doses producing plasma levels up to approximately 35 times that for the recommended adult HIV dose. No evidence of teratogenicity due to lamivudine was observed. Evidence of early embryolethality was seen in the rabbit at exposure levels similar to those observed in humans, but there was no indication of this effect in the rat at exposure levels up to 35 times those in humans.


Risk Summary

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

The safety and effectiveness of EPIVIR in combination with other antiretroviral agents have been established in pediatric patients aged 3 months and older [see DOSAGE AND ADMINISTRATION, ADVERSE REACTIONS, CLINICAL PHARMACOLOGY, Clinical Studies].

Geriatric Use

Clinical trials of EPIVIR 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 EPIVIR in elderly patients reflecting the greater frequency of decreased hepatic, renal, or cardiac function, and of concomitant disease or other drug therapy [see DOSAGE AND ADMINISTRATION, CLINICAL PHARMACOLOGY].

Patients With Impaired Renal Function

Reduction of the dosage of EPIVIR is recommended for patients with impaired renal function [see DOSAGE AND ADMINISTRATION, CLINICAL PHARMACOLOGY].

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

Last reviewed on RxList: 10/23/2015


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