What is Abacavir?
Abacavir is an antiviral medication that prevents human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) cells from multiplying in your body.
Abacavir is used to treat HIV, which causes the acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS). Abacavir is not a cure for HIV or AIDS.
Abacavir may also be used for other purposes not listed in this medication guide.
What is the most important information I should know about Abacavir?
Stop using abacavir and call your doctor at once if you have any of these signs of an allergic reaction: fever; rash; nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, stomach pain; general tiredness, body aches; shortness of breath, cough, sore throat.
Once you have had an allergic reaction to abacavir, you must never use it again.
Read the Warning Card that comes with this medication, and carry it with you at all times so you will know the symptoms of allergic reaction to watch for.
If you stop taking abacavir for any reason, talk to your doctor before you start taking the medication again. If you miss several doses in a row, you could have a dangerous or even fatal allergic reaction when you start taking abacavir again.
Some people have developed a life-threatening condition called lactic acidosis while taking abacavir. Early signs of lactic acidosis generally get worse over time and this condition can be fatal. Get emergency medical help if you have even mild symptoms of lactic acidosis, such as: muscle pain or weakness, numb or cold feeling in your arms and legs, trouble breathing, stomach pain, nausea with vomiting, slow or uneven heart rate, dizziness, or feeling very weak or tired.
Abacavir can also cause severe or life-threatening effects on the liver . Call your doctor at once if you have any of these liver symptoms while taking abacavir: nausea, stomach pain, loss of appetite, low fever, dark urine, clay-colored stools, jaundice (yellowing of the skin or eyes).
What should I discuss with my healthcare provider before taking Abacavir?
Do not take abacavir if you have ever had an allergic reaction to it, or to any medicine that contains abacavir, such as Epzicom or Trizivir. Once you have had an allergic reaction to abacavir, you must never use it again.
Some people have developed a life-threatening condition called lactic acidosis while taking abacavir. You may be more likely to develop lactic acidosis if you are overweight or have liver disease, if you are a woman, or if you have taken certain HIV or AIDS medications for a long time. Talk with your doctor about your individual risk.
Abacavir can also cause severe or life-threatening effects on the liver. Call your doctor at once if you have any of these liver symptoms while taking abacavir: nausea, stomach pain, loss of appetite, low fever, dark urine, clay-colored stools, jaundice (yellowing of the skin or eyes).
Do not use abacavir if you have moderate or severe liver disease, or if you are also taking any other medication that contains abacavir, such as Epzicom, or Trizivir.
If you have any of these other conditions, you may need a dose adjustment or special tests to safely take abacavir:
- liver disease; or
- if you have used a medicine similar to abacavir in the past, such as didanosine (Videx), lamivudine (Combivir, Epzicom, Trizivir), stavudine (Zerit), tenofovir (Viread), zalcitabine (Hivid), or zidovudine (Retrovir)
You may need a blood test before you start taking abacavir for the first time, or if you are restarting the medication after stopping for reasons not related to an allergic reaction.
FDA pregnancy category C. It is not known whether abacavir is harmful to an unborn baby. HIV can be passed to the baby if the mother is not properly treated during pregnancy. Tell your doctor if you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant during treatment. Take all of your HIV medicines as directed to control your infection while you are pregnant.
Your name may need to be listed on a pregnancy registry if you become pregnant while taking this medication. The purpose of this registry is to track the outcome of the pregnancy and delivery to evaluate whether abacavir had any effect on the baby.
You should not breast-feed while you are using abacavir. Women with HIV or AIDS should not breast-feed at all. Even if your baby is born without HIV, you may still pass the virus to the baby in your breast milk.
Abacavir Side Effects
What are the possible side effects of Abacavir?
Stop using abacavir and call your doctor at once if you have symptoms of an allergic reaction from two or more of these specific side effect groups:
- Group 1 – fever
- Group 2 – rash
- Group 3 – nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, stomach pain
- Group 4 – general tiredness, body aches
- Group 5 – shortness of breath, cough, sore throat
Once you have had an allergic reaction to abacavir, you must never use it again. If you stop taking abacavir for any reason, talk to your doctor before you start taking the medication again.
Abacavir can cause other serious side effects that may not be signs of an allergic reaction. Call your doctor at once if you have:
- lactic acidosis – muscle pain or weakness, numb or cold feeling in your arms and legs, trouble breathing, stomach pain, nausea with vomiting, slow or uneven heart rate, dizziness, or feeling very weak or tired
- liver damage – nausea, stomach pain, low fever, loss of appetite, dark urine, clay-colored stools, jaundice (yellowing of the skin or eyes)
- severe skin symptoms – fever, sore throat, and headache with a severe blistering, peeling, and red skin rash
- pancreatitis – severe pain in your upper stomach spreading to your back, nausea and vomiting, fast heart rate
- wheezing, trouble breathing
- vision changes or increased sensitivity to light
- urinating less than usual or not at all
- fever, chills, body aches, flu symptoms; or
- any other signs of new infection
Less serious side effects may include:
- sleep problems or strange dreams
- headache, mood changes; or
- changes in the shape or location of body fat (especially in your arms, legs, face, neck, breasts, and trunk)
This is not a complete list of side effects and others may occur. Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.
What other drugs affect Abacavir?
Before taking abacavir, tell your doctor if you are using methadone (Methadose, Dolophine). You may need dosage adjustments during treatment.
This list is not complete and there may be other drugs that can interact with abacavir. Tell your doctor about all the prescription and over-the-counter medications you use. This includes vitamins, minerals, herbal products, and drugs prescribed by other doctors. Do not start using a new medication without telling your doctor.
What should I avoid while taking Abacavir?
Avoid drinking alcohol while taking abacavir. Alcohol may increase your risk of liver damage.
Avoid having unprotected sex or sharing needles, razors, or toothbrushes. Taking this medication will not prevent you from passing HIV to other people. Talk with your doctor about safe methods of preventing HIV transmission during sex. Sharing drug or medicine needles is never safe, even for a healthy person.
How should I take Abacavir?
Take this medication exactly as it was prescribed for you. Do not take the medication in larger amounts, or take it for longer than recommended by your doctor. Follow the instructions on your prescription label.
This medication comes with patient instructions for safe and effective use. Follow these directions carefully. Ask your doctor or pharmacist if you have any questions.
Abacavir can be taken with or without food.
Measure the liquid form of abacavir with a special dose-measuring spoon or cup, not a regular table spoon. If you do not have a dose-measuring device, ask your pharmacist where you can get one.
This medicine comes with a Medication Guide and a Warning Card that lists the symptoms of an allergic reaction. Read this information carefully and carry the Warning Card with you at all times so you will know what symptoms to watch for.
It is important to take abacavir regularly to get the most benefit. Get your prescriptions refilled before you run out of medicine completely.
HIV/AIDS is usually treated with a combination of different drugs. To best treat your condition, use all of your medications as directed by your doctor. Be sure to read the medication guide or patient instructions provided with each of your medications. Do not change your doses or medication schedule without advice from your doctor. Every person with HIV or AIDS should remain under the care of a doctor.
To be sure this medication is helping your condition, your blood will need to be tested on a regular basis. Your liver function may also need to be tested. It is important that you not miss any scheduled visits to your doctor.
Store abacavir at room temperature away from moisture and heat.
You may store the oral solution (liquid) in the refrigerator but do not let it freeze.
What happens if I overdose on Abacavir?
Seek emergency medical attention if you think you have used too much of this medicine. Symptoms of an abacavir overdose are not known.
What happens if I miss a dose of Abacavir?
Take the missed dose as soon as you remember. If it is almost time for your next dose, skip the missed dose and take the medicine at the next regularly scheduled time. Do not take extra medicine to make up the missed dose.
Do not allow this medicine to run out completely before you get your prescription refilled. It is important that you not stop taking abacavir once you have started. If you miss several doses in a row, you may have a dangerous or even fatal allergic reaction once you start taking abacavir again. If you stop taking abacavir for any reason, talk to your doctor before you start taking the medication again.
Sourced from everydayhealth.com