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Trizivir (Generic Abacavir)

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Abacavir is an antiretroviral medication used to treat HIV/AIDS. Like all medications, it carries certain risks and side effects. Some of the potential risks of taking Abacavir include:

  • Hypersensitivity Reaction: This is the most serious risk associated with Abacavir. A small percentage of people (about 5-8%) may experience a severe allergic reaction shortly after starting the medication. Symptoms may include fever, rash, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, fatigue, and respiratory symptoms. If this occurs, Abacavir should be discontinued immediately, as a severe hypersensitivity reaction can be life-threatening.
  • Lactic Acidosis: Abacavir, like other antiretroviral drugs, can lead to the buildup of lactic acid in the blood, which can cause symptoms such as weakness, tiredness, muscle pain, trouble breathing, stomach pain, nausea, vomiting, and irregular heartbeat. This is a rare but potentially serious side effect that requires medical attention.
  • Liver Problems: Some individuals may experience liver problems, including hepatomegaly (enlarged liver) and elevated liver enzymes. Regular monitoring of liver function is typically recommended for those taking Abacavir.
  • Immune Reconstitution Syndrome: In HIV-infected individuals with severe immune deficiency at the time of initiation of combination antiretroviral therapy (including Abacavir), an inflammatory response to asymptomatic or residual opportunistic infections may arise. This is known as immune reconstitution syndrome and can manifest with an exacerbation of symptoms or the appearance of new symptoms.
  • Other Side Effects: Common side effects of Abacavir include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, headache, fatigue, and insomnia. These side effects are usually mild and tend to improve over time as the body adjusts to the medication.

It’s important for individuals taking Abacavir to be aware of these potential risks and to report any unusual symptoms to their healthcare provider promptly. Additionally, regular monitoring and communication with a healthcare provider are essential to manage any potential side effects and ensure the safe and effective use of the medication.

Why is this medication prescribed?

Abacavir is prescribed as part of a combination therapy for the treatment of HIV/AIDS. It belongs to a class of medications called nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors (NRTIs), which work by inhibiting the replication of the HIV virus in the body. When used in combination with other antiretroviral drugs, abacavir helps to reduce the viral load in the blood, improve the immune system function, and slow down the progression of HIV infection to AIDS.

How should this medicine be used?

Abacavir is typically prescribed as part of a combination regimen for the treatment of HIV infection. It’s important to follow your healthcare provider’s instructions and the medication label carefully when taking abacavir. Here are some general guidelines on how abacavir is used:

  • Dosage: The dosage of abacavir can vary depending on factors such as the individual’s weight, other medications being taken, and the severity of the HIV infection. It is usually taken orally in the form of tablets or oral solution.
  • Frequency: Abacavir is usually taken once or twice daily. It’s important to take the medication exactly as prescribed by your healthcare provider.
  • With or Without Food: Abacavir can be taken with or without food. It’s typically recommended to take it with a glass of water.
  • Adherence: It’s crucial to take abacavir consistently and not to miss doses. Missing doses or not taking the medication as prescribed can lead to treatment failure and the development of drug-resistant HIV strains.
  • Testing for HLA-B*5701: Before starting treatment with abacavir, it’s important to undergo testing for the HLA-B*5701 genetic marker to assess the risk of hypersensitivity reactions.
  • Monitoring: While taking abacavir, your healthcare provider will likely monitor you regularly to check for any side effects or complications. They may also monitor your HIV viral load and CD4 cell count to assess the effectiveness of the treatment.
  • Discontinuation: Do not stop taking abacavir without consulting your healthcare provider, even if you feel better. Stopping the medication abruptly can lead to the return of HIV symptoms and the development of drug resistance.
  • Storage: Store abacavir tablets or oral solution at room temperature, away from moisture and heat. Keep the medication out of reach of children.

Always consult your healthcare provider or pharmacist if you have any questions or concerns about how to use abacavir or any other medication prescribed to you.

Other uses for this medicine

Abacavir is primarily used for the treatment of HIV/AIDS and is not typically prescribed for other conditions. However, in some cases, healthcare providers may prescribe abacavir “off-label” for the management of other viral infections, such as hepatitis B, particularly in individuals who are co-infected with HIV and hepatitis B virus.

What special precautions should I follow?

Special precautions should be followed when taking abacavir to minimize the risk of adverse effects and ensure its safe and effective use:

  • Allergy screening: Before starting abacavir treatment, individuals should undergo screening for the HLA-B*5701 genetic marker to assess their risk of experiencing a severe allergic reaction known as hypersensitivity reaction. Abacavir should not be prescribed to individuals who test positive for this marker.
  • Allergic reaction monitoring: Patients should be educated about the signs and symptoms of an allergic reaction to abacavir, which can include rash, fever, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, fatigue, muscle aches, shortness of breath, and respiratory symptoms. If any of these symptoms occur, patients should stop taking abacavir and seek immediate medical attention.
  • Medical history: Patients should inform their healthcare provider of their complete medical history, including any past allergic reactions, liver problems, or other medical conditions, before starting abacavir treatment.
  • Medication interactions: Abacavir can interact with other medications, so patients should inform their healthcare provider of all other prescription and over-the-counter drugs, supplements, and herbal products they are taking. Certain medications, such as methadone, may require dosage adjustments when used concomitantly with abacavir.
  • Adherence to treatment: It’s crucial for patients to take abacavir exactly as prescribed by their healthcare provider, without skipping doses or altering the dosage regimen. Skipping doses or not taking the medication as directed can lead to treatment failure and the development of drug-resistant HIV strains.
  • Regular monitoring: Patients should attend regular follow-up appointments with their healthcare provider for monitoring of HIV viral load, CD4 cell count, liver function tests, and potential side effects. This allows for early detection of any issues and adjustment of the treatment regimen as needed.

By following these precautions and working closely with their healthcare provider, individuals can maximize the benefits of abacavir therapy while minimizing the risks associated with its use.

What special dietary instructions should I follow?

There are no specific dietary restrictions associated with Abacavir. However, taking Abacavir with or without food is generally acceptable. If gastrointestinal side effects occur, taking it with food may help alleviate stomach upset.

What should I do if I forget a dose?

If you forget to take a dose of Abacavir, take it as soon as you remember. However, if it is almost time for your next scheduled dose, skip the missed dose and continue with your regular dosing schedule. Do not double the dose to make up for the missed one.

If you have missed multiple doses or are unsure about what to do, contact your healthcare provider or pharmacist for guidance. They can provide specific instructions based on your individual circumstances.

What side effects can this medication cause?

Abacavir is an antiretroviral medication used to treat HIV infection. Like many medications, it can cause side effects. Some common side effects of abacavir include:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Headache
  • Fatigue
  • Fever
  • Rash
  • Difficulty sleeping (insomnia)
  • Dizziness
  • Changes in body fat distribution (lipodystrophy)

However, there are more severe side effects associated with abacavir, such as hypersensitivity reactions. These can include symptoms such as fever, rash, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, fatigue, achiness, respiratory symptoms, and in severe cases, liver problems or even life-threatening reactions such as Stevens-Johnson syndrome or toxic epidermal necrolysis.

It’s crucial for individuals taking abacavir to be aware of these potential side effects and to promptly report any unusual symptoms to their healthcare provider. Additionally, abacavir is associated with a risk of severe hypersensitivity reactions in individuals who carry a specific genetic marker called HLA-B*5701. Therefore, before starting treatment with abacavir, it is recommended to undergo testing for this genetic marker to assess the risk of hypersensitivity.

What should I know about storage and disposal of this medication?

Storage and disposal of Abacavir:


  • Room Temperature: Store Abacavir tablets or oral solution at room temperature away from moisture and heat.
  • Original Container: Keep Abacavir in its original container with the lid tightly closed to protect it from moisture.
  • Keep Out of Reach of Children: Store Abacavir in a secure location out of reach of children and pets.


  • Do Not Flush: Do not flush Abacavir tablets or oral solution down the toilet or pour them into a drain unless instructed to do so.
  • Medication Take-Back Program: Dispose of any unused or expired medication through a medication take-back program or by returning it to a pharmacy.

In case of emergency/overdose

In case of emergency or overdose of Abacavir:

  • Seek Medical Attention: In case of an overdose or suspected overdose of Abacavir, seek emergency medical attention or call your local poison control center immediately.
  • Symptom Management: If you or someone else has taken too much Abacavir and is experiencing severe symptoms, such as nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, or trouble breathing, do not wait for symptoms to worsen. Seek medical help immediately.

What other information should I know?

  • Follow Instructions: Take Abacavir exactly as prescribed by your healthcare provider. Do not change the dosage or stop taking the medication without consulting your healthcare provider first.
  • Regular Monitoring: Attend all scheduled appointments with your healthcare provider for monitoring of HIV viral load, CD4 cell count, liver function, and overall health.
  • Avoid Alcohol: Limit alcohol consumption while taking Abacavir, as it may increase the risk of liver problems or other adverse effects.
  • Avoid Sharing: Do not share Abacavir or any of your prescription medications with others, even if they have similar symptoms or conditions.
  • Inform Healthcare Providers: Inform all healthcare providers involved in your care, including dentists and pharmacists, that you are taking Abacavir, as it may interact with other medications or medical treatments.
  • Genetic Testing: If you have not already undergone genetic testing for the HLA-B*5701 allele, discuss this with your healthcare provider before starting Abacavir to assess the risk of hypersensitivity reaction.
  • Pregnancy and Breastfeeding: If you are pregnant, planning to become pregnant, or breastfeeding, discuss the risks and benefits of Abacavir with your healthcare provider.

By following these guidelines, you can ensure the safe and effective use of Abacavir and minimize the risk of adverse effects or complications.

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