November 28, 2015
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Side Effects


The following adverse reactions are discussed in other sections of the labeling:

Clinical Trials Experience In Adult Subjects

Because clinical trials are conducted under widely varying conditions, adverse reaction rates observed in the clinical trials of a drug cannot be directly compared with rates in the clinical trials of another drug and may not reflect the rates observed in clinical practice.

Serious and Fatal Abacavir-associated Hypersensitivity Reactions

In clinical trials, serious and sometimes fatal hypersensitivity reactions have occurred with abacavir, a component of EPZICOM [see BOXED WARNING, WARNINGS AND PRECAUTIONS]. These reactions have been characterized by 2 or more of the following signs or symptoms: (1) fever; (2) rash; (3) gastrointestinal symptoms (including nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, or abdominal pain); (4) constitutional symptoms (including generalized malaise, fatigue, or achiness); (5) respiratory symptoms (including dyspnea, cough, or pharyngitis). Almost all abacavir hypersensitivity reactions include fever and/or rash as part of the syndrome.

Other signs and symptoms have included lethargy, headache, myalgia, edema, arthralgia, and paresthesia. Anaphylaxis, liver failure, renal failure, hypotension, adult respiratory distress syndrome, respiratory failure, myolysis, and death have occurred in association with these hypersensitivity reactions. Physical findings have included lymphadenopathy, mucous membrane lesions (conjunctivitis and mouth ulcerations), and maculopapular or urticarial rash (although some patients had other types of rashes and others did not have a rash). There were reports of erythema multiforme. Laboratory abnormalities included elevated liver chemistries, elevated creatine phosphokinase, elevated creatinine, and lymphopenia and abnormal chest x-ray findings (predominantly infiltrates, which were localized).

Additional Adverse Reactions with Use of EPZICOM:

Therapy-naive Adults: Treatment-emergent clinical adverse reactions (rated by the investigator as moderate or severe) with greater than or equal to 5% frequency during therapy with ZIAGEN 600 mg once daily or ZIAGEN 300 mg twice daily, both in combination with lamivudine 300 mg once daily and efavirenz 600 mg once daily, are listed in Table 1.

Table 1: Treatment-emergent (All Causality) Adverse Reactions of at Least Moderate Intensity (Grades 2-4, Greater than or Equal to 5% Frequency) in Therapy-naive Adults (CNA30021) through 48 Weeks of Treatment

Adverse Event ZIAGEN 600 mg q.d. plus EPIVIR plus Efavirenz
(n = 384)
ZIAGEN 300 mg b.i.d. plus EPIVIR plus Efavirenz
(n = 386)
Drug hypersensitivitya,b 9% 7%
Insomnia 7% 9%
Depression/Depressed mood 7% 7%
Headache/Migraine 7% 6%
Fatigue/Malaise 6% 8%
Dizziness/Vertigo 6% 6%
Nausea 5% 6%
Diarrheaa 5% 6%
Rash 5% 5%
Pyrexia 5% 3%
Abdominal pain/gastritis 4% 5%
Abnormal dreams 4% 5%
Anxiety 3% 5%
aSubjects receiving ZIAGEN 600 mg once daily, experienced a significantly higher incidence of severe drug hypersensitivity reactions and severe diarrhea compared with subjects who received ZIAGEN 300 mg twice daily. Five percent (5%) of subjects receiving ZIAGEN 600 mg once daily had severe drug hypersensitivity reactions compared with 2% of subjects receiving ZIAGEN 300 mg twice daily. Two percent (2%) of subjects receiving ZIAGEN 600 mg once daily had severe diarrhea while none of the subjects receiving ZIAGEN 300 mg twice daily had this event.
bCNA30024 was a multi-center, double-blind, controlled trial in which 649 HIV-1-infected, therapy-naive adults were randomized and received either ZIAGEN (300 mg twice daily), EPIVIR (150 mg twice daily), and efavirenz (600 mg once daily); or zidovudine (300 mg twice daily), EPIVIR (150 mg twice daily), and efavirenz (600 mg once daily). CNA30024 used double-blind ascertainment of suspected hypersensitivity reactions. During the blinded portion of the trial, suspected hypersensitivity to abacavir was reported by investigators in 9% of 324 subjects in the abacavir group and 3% of 325 subjects in the zidovudine group.

Laboratory Abnormalities: Laboratory abnormalities observed in clinical trials of ZIAGEN were anemia, neutropenia, liver function test abnormalities, and elevations of CPK, blood glucose, and triglycerides. Additional laboratory abnormalities observed in clinical trials of EPIVIR were thrombocytopenia and elevated levels of bilirubin, amylase, and lipase.

The frequencies of treatment-emergent laboratory abnormalities were comparable between treatment groups in CNA30021.

Other Adverse Events: In addition to adverse reactions listed above, other adverse events observed in the expanded access program for abacavir were pancreatitis and increased GGT.

Clinical Trials Experience In Pediatric Subjects

The safety of once-daily compared with twice-daily dosing of abacavir and lamivudine, administered as either single products or as EPZICOM, was assessed in the ARROW trial (n = 336). Primary safety assessment in the ARROW (COL105677) trial was based on Grade 3 and Grade 4 adverse events. The frequency of Grade 3 and 4 adverse events was similar among subjects randomized to once-daily dosing compared with subjects randomized to twice-daily dosing. One event of Grade 4 hepatitis in the once-daily cohort was considered as uncertain causality by the investigator and all other Grade 3 or 4 adverse events were considered not related by the investigator. No additional safety issues were identified in pediatric subjects receiving abacavir and lamivudine once-daily compared with historical data in adults [see Clinical Trials Experience in Adult Subjects].

Postmarketing Experience

The following adverse reactions have been identified during postmarketing use. Because these reactions are reported voluntarily from a population of unknown size, it is not always possible to reliably estimate their frequency or establish a causal relationship to drug exposure.


Cardiovascular: Myocardial infarction.

Skin: Suspected Stevens-Johnson syndrome (SJS) and toxic epidermal necrolysis (TEN) have been reported in patients receiving abacavir primarily in combination with medications known to be associated with SJS and TEN, respectively. Because of the overlap of clinical signs and symptoms between hypersensitivity to abacavir and SJS and TEN, and the possibility of multiple drug sensitivities in some patients, abacavir should be discontinued and not restarted in such cases. There have also been reports of erythema multiforme with abacavir use [see Clinical Trials Experience in Adult Subjects].

Abacavir and Lamivudine

Body as a Whole: Redistribution/accumulation of body fat [see WARNINGS AND PRECAUTIONS].

Digestive: Stomatitis.

Endocrine and Metabolic: Hyperglycemia. General: Weakness.

Hemic and Lymphatic: Aplastic anemia, anemia (including pure red cell aplasia and severe anemias progressing on therapy), lymphadenopathy, splenomegaly.

Hepatic: Lactic acidosis and hepatic steatosis [see WARNINGS AND PRECAUTIONS], posttreatment exacerbations of hepatitis B [see WARNINGS AND PRECAUTIONS].

Hypersensitivity: Sensitization reactions (including anaphylaxis), urticaria.

Musculoskeletal: Muscle weakness, CPK elevation, rhabdomyolysis. Nervous: Paresthesia, peripheral neuropathy, seizures. Respiratory: Abnormal breath sounds/wheezing.

Skin: Alopecia, erythema multiforme, Stevens-Johnson syndrome.

Read the Epzicom (abacavir sulfate and lamivudine tablets) Side Effects Center for a complete guide to possible side effects



In a trial of 11 HIV-1-infected subjects receiving methadone-maintenance therapy with 600 mg of ZIAGEN twice daily (twice the currently recommended dose), oral methadone clearance increased [see CLINICAL PHARMACOLOGY]. This alteration will not result in a methadone dose modification in the majority of patients; however, an increased methadone dose may be required in a small number of patients.

Read the Epzicom Drug Interactions Center for a complete guide to possible interactions

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

Last reviewed on RxList: 10/23/2015

Side Effects

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