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AIDSinfo Drug Database

AIDSinfo Drug Database

Drugs by class

FDA-approved

Investigational

Lamivudine / Zidovudine  Audio icon

Brand Name: Combivir
Other Names: 3TC / ZDV
Drug Class: Nucleoside Reverse Transcriptase Inhibitors
Approved Use: Treatment of HIV Infection
Drug Image:
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Combivir tablet
Chemical Images:
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lamivudine
lamivudine
Molecular Weight: 229.2589
zidovudine
zidovudine
Molecular Weight: 267.2437

WARNING:

Combivir can cause serious, life-threatening side effects. These include lactic acidosis (a buildup of lactic acid in the blood), liver problems, muscle weakness (myopathy), and blood disorders such as severe anemia (extremely reduced numbers of red blood cells) or neutropenia (reduced numbers of white blood cells).

Contact your health care provider right away if you have any of the following symptoms that may signal lactic acidosis:

  • Weakness or tiredness.
  • Unusual (not normal) muscle pain.
  • Trouble breathing.
  • Stomach pain with nausea and vomiting.
  • Feeling cold, especially in your arms and legs.
  • Dizziness or lightheadedness.
  • Fast or irregular heartbeat.

Contact your health care provider if you have any of the following symptoms that may signal serious liver problems:

  • Yellowing of your skin or the whites of your eyes (jaundice).
  • Dark-colored urine. 
  • Light-colored bowel movements.
  • Loss of appetite for several days or longer.
  • Nausea.
  • Pain in the stomach area (abdominal pain).

Contact your health care provider right away if you have muscle weakness.

Combivir can cause blood disorders such as severe anemia (extremely reduced numbers of red blood cells) or neutropenia (reduced numbers of white blood cells). Your doctor may follow your blood count closely while you are taking Combivir.

Combivir is not approved for the treatment of hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection. If you have both HIV and HBV infection and take Combivir, your HBV infection may get worse (flare up) if you stop taking Combivir. 

While taking Combivir, it is important to keep all of your appointments with your health care provider.

What is Combivir?

Combivir is a prescription medicine approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the treatment of HIV infection in adults and children weighing more than 30 kg. Combivir is always used in combination with other HIV medicines.

Combivir contains the following two different medicines combined in one pill: 

  • Lamivudine – an HIV medicine called a nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitor (NRTI). 
  • Zidovudine – another HIV medicine (also an NRTI). 

NRTIs block an HIV enzyme called reverse transcriptase. (An enzyme is a protein that starts or increases the speed of a chemical reaction.) By blocking reverse transcriptase, the two drugs in combination prevent HIV from multiplying and can reduce the amount of HIV in the body. 

Combivir does not cure HIV/AIDS. People with HIV should stay on continuous HIV treatment as directed by their health care provider and should take steps to avoid passing HIV to others (for example, using a condom during sex).

What should I tell my health care provider before taking Combivir?

Before taking Combivir, tell your health care provider:

  • If you are allergic to either of the medicines in Combivir (lamivudine or zidovudine) or any other medicines.
  • If you have or have ever had any blood disorders, such as anemia or bone marrow problems.
  • If you have or have ever had any muscle disorder, such as myopathy (muscle weakness).
  • If you have or have ever had kidney problems.
  • If you have or have ever had liver problems, such as HBV or hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection.
  • If you have any other medical conditions.
  • If you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant. Whether Combivir can harm an unborn baby is unknown.
  • If you are breastfeeding or plan to breastfeed. Do not breastfeed if you are infected with HIV or are taking Combivir.
  • About other prescription and nonprescription medicines, vitamins, nutritional supplements, and herbal products you are taking or plan to take. Combivir may affect the way other medicines or products work, and other medicines or products may affect how Combivir works. Taking Combivir together with certain medicines or products may cause serious and/or life-threatening side effects.

How should I take Combivir?

Combivir comes in tablet form. Each tablet contains:

  • 150 mg lamivudine (brand name: Epivir).
  • 300 mg zidovudine (brand name: Retrovir).

Take Combivir according to your health care provider’s instructions.

Always take Combivir in combination with other HIV medicines. Take Combivir with or without food.

If you take too much Combivir, contact your local poison control center (1-800-222-1222) right away or go to the nearest hospital emergency room.

For more information on how to take Combivir, see the FDA drug label from DailyMed. (DailyMed is a federal website that includes the most recent drug labels submitted to FDA.)

What should I do if I forget a dose?

Take the missed dose as soon as you remember it. But if it is almost time for your next dose, skip the missed dose and just take your next dose at the regular time. Do not take two doses at the same time to make up for a missed dose.

What side effects can Combivir cause?

Combivir can cause serious, life-threatening side effects. These include lactic acidosis (a buildup of lactic acid in the blood), liver problems, muscle weakness (myopathy), and blood disorders such as severe anemia (extremely reduced numbers of red blood cells) or neutropenia (reduced numbers of white blood cells). (See the WARNING above.)

Other possible side effects of Combivir include:

  • Changes in the immune system (immune reconstitution inflammatory syndrome [IRIS]).
  • Changes in body fat (lipodystrophy).
  • Inflammation of the pancreas (pancreatitis).

Tell your health care provider if you have any side effect that bothers you or that does not go away.

These are not all the possible side effects of Combivir. Ask your health care provider or pharmacist for more information on possible side effects of Combivir. You may also want to read this fact sheet about HIV medicines and side effects.

You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088 (1-800-332-1088).

How should Combivir be stored?

  • Store Combivir between 36°F and 86°F (2°C to 30°C) and away from excessive heat and moisture.
  • Keep Combivir in the container that it came in and keep the container tightly closed.
  • Safely throw away Combivir that is no longer needed or expired (out of date).
  • Keep Combivir and all medicines out of reach of children.

Where can I find more information about Combivir?

More information about Combivir is available:

Manufacturer Information

ViiV Healthcare
888-825-5249

The above Patient Version drug summary is based on the following FDA label(s): Tablet.

Last Reviewed: April 28, 2014

Last Updated: April 28, 2014


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