The reference site for Lamivudine

Lamivudine, commonly called 3TC, is an antiretroviral medication used to prevent and treat HIV/AIDS.

WHAT IS Lamivudine?

Lamivudine is an antiviral medication. It is in a group of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) medicines called reverse transcriptase inhibitors. Lamivudine helps keep the HIV virus from reproducing in the body.

The Epivir® brand of lamivudine is used to treat HIV and hepatitis B viruses, which cause the acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS). On the other hand, the Epivir-HBV® brand of lamivudine is used to treat chronic hepatitis B.

Lamivudine is not, however, a cure for HIV or AIDS.


Brand Name(s): Epivir; Epivir-HBV
CAS nº: 134678-17-4
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Product Info

The sections below will provide you with more specific information and guidelines related to lamivudine and its correct use. Please read them carefully.

FDA Information

Lamivudine was invented by Bernard Belleau and Nghe Nguyen-Ba at the Montreal-based IAF BioChem International, Inc. laboratories in 1989. The drug was later licensed to the British pharmaceutical company Glaxo for a 14 percent royalty.

Following this, lamivudine was approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on November 17th 1995 for use with Zidovudine (AZT®) and again in 2002 as a once-a-day dosed medication. The fifth antiretroviral drug on the market, it was the last NRTI for three years while the approval process switched to protease inhibitors. Its patent will expire in the United States on 2016-05-18.

Please visit the official site of the FDA for further information.

Why is this medication prescribed?

Lamivudine is an oral medication that is used for the treatment of infections with the human immunodeficiency (HIV) and hepatitis B viruses.

It is in a class of drugs called reverse transcriptase inhibitors which also includes zalcitabine (Hivid®), zidovudine (Retrovir®), didanosine (Videx®), and stavudine (Zerit®). During infection with HIV, the HIV virus multiplies within the body’s cells. The viruses then are released from the cells and spread throughout the body where they infect other cells. In this manner, HIV infection spreads to new, uninfected cells that the body is continually producing, and HIV infection is perpetuated. When producing new viruses, the HIV virus must manufacture new DNA for each virus. Reverse transcriptase is the virus’ enzyme that forms this new DNA.

Lamivudine is first converted within the body to its active form, lamivudine triphosphate. This active form is similar to a chemical, deoxycytidine triphosphate, that is used by reverse transcriptase to make new DNA. The reverse transcriptase uses lamivudine triphosphate instead of deoxycytidine triphosphate, and the lamivudine triphosphate interferes with the reverse transcriptase.

It is important to note that lamivudine does not kill existing HIV virus, and it is not a cure for HIV.

Other uses for this medicine

Lamivudine is also used sometimes in combination with zidovudine (Retrovir®, AZT®) to treat health-care workers or other individuals exposed to HIV infection after accidental contact with HIV-contaminated blood, tissues, or other body fluids.

However, it is important that you talk to your doctor about the possible risks of using this drug for your particular condition.

Dosage and using this medicine

Lamivudine comes as a tablet and liquid to be taken orally. Lamivudine (Epivir®) is usually taken every 12 hours (twice a day). Lamivudine (Epivir-HBV®) is usually taken once a day.

Take this medication exactly as your doctor has prescribed it for you. Do not use more of the medication than recommended. Do not take lamivudine for longer than your doctor has prescribed.

Lamivudine can be taken with or without food.

To ensure that you get a correct dose, measure the liquid forms of lamivudine with a special dose-measuring spoon or cup, not with a regular table spoon. If you do not have a dose-measuring device, ask your pharmacist for one.

Epivir tablets and liquid contain a higher dose of lamivudine than Epivir-HBV®Epivir® is for treating HIV and Epivir-HBV® is for treating hepatitis B. Each time you get a refill of this medication, be sure you have received the correct brand to treat your condition.

Furthermore, treatment of HIV/AIDS almost always requires using many medicines together. To best treat your condition, use all of your medications as directed by your doctor. 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.

Additionally, in order to be sure this medication is helping your condition, your blood will need to be tested on a regular basis. Your kidney or liver function may also need to be tested. It is important that you not miss any scheduled visits to your doctor.

What special precautions should I follow?


Please inform your doctor if you have kidney disease, liver disease, pancreatitis, or problems with your muscles. If you have any of the conditions listed above, you may not be able to use lamivudine or you may need a dosage adjustment or special tests during treatment.

If you have hepatitis B you may develop liver symptoms after you stop taking lamivudine, even months after stopping. Your doctor may want to check your liver at regular visits for several months after you stop using this medication. Do not miss any scheduled visits.

Also, if you have diabetes, you should know that the liquid forms of this medication contain 3 to 4 grams of sucrose (sugar) per dose.

Lamivudine is in the FDA pregnancy category C. This means that it is not known if it will be harmful to an unborn baby. Do not use this medication without telling your doctor if you are pregnant. It is very important to treat HIV/AIDS during pregnancy to reduce the risk of infecting the baby. Tell your doctor if you become pregnant during treatment.

Furthermore, it is not known if lamivudine passes into breast milk or if it could harm a nursing baby. Women with HIV or AIDS should not breast-feed. Even if your baby is born without HIV, you may still pass the virus to the baby in your breast milk.

Avoid having unprotected sex or sharing needles, razors, or toothbrushes. Taking this medication will not keep you from passing HIV to other people. Talk with your doctor about safe methods of preventing HIV transmission during sex, such as using a condom and spermicide. Sharing drug or medicine needles is never safe, even for a healthy person.

Additionally, avoid drinking alcohol while taking lamivudine. Alcohol may increase the risk of damage to your pancreas or liver.

What should I do if I forget a dose?

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.

What side effects can this medication cause?

Possible side effects from lamivudine may include:

upset stomach
loss of appetite
trouble sleeping
stuffy nose

Tell your doctor if any of these symptoms are severe or do not go away:

changes in the shape or location of body fat (especially in your arms, legs, face, neck, breasts, and trunk)
sleep problems (insomnia), strange dreams
headache, dizziness
a runny or stuffy nose

If you experience any of the following symptoms, call your doctor immediately:

an allergic reaction (hives, difficulty breathing, swelling of your face, lips, tongue or throat)
dark urine, clay-colored stools, or jaundice (yellowing of the skin or eyes)
lactic acidosis – muscle pain or weakness, numb or tingly feeling, and nausea with vomiting
signs of a new infection – fever, chills, body aches, flu symptoms
white patches or sores inside your mouth or on your lips

Side effects other than those listed here may also occur. Talk to your doctor about any side effect that seems unusual or that is especially bothersome.


Swelling of the pancreas (pancreatitis) may occur during treatment with lamivudine, especially in children using this medication. Call your doctor right away if you notice any of these symptoms of pancreatitis: sudden and severe pain in the upper middle or left side of your stomach, nausea and/ or vomiting, fever, chills, rapid pulse, or stomach pain that gets worse after eating or when lying down flat.

Moreover, call your doctor at once if you have any problems with your liver while you are using lamivudine. Symptoms to watch for include stomach pain, nausea and vomiting, low fever, lost appetite, dark urine, clay-colored stools, or jaundice (yellowing of the skin or eyes).

What storage conditions are needed for this medicine?

Remember to always keep this medication in the container it came in, tightly closed, and out of reach of children. Store it at room temperature and away from excess heat and moisture (not in the bathroom). The liquid does not need to be refrigerated; however, it should be stored in a cool place.

It is strongly advised to throw away any medication that is outdated or no longer needed. If you are unsure, please talk to your pharmacist about the proper disposal of your medication.

In case of an emergency/overdose

In the case of an overdose, call your local poison control center at 1-800-222-1222. If the victim has collapsed or is not breathing, call the local emergency services on 911.

Nevertheless, symptoms of a lamivudine overdose are not known.

Product Images


Below you will find images and specific information on the principal types of lamivudine that exist, including their respective brand name(s), strength, inscription codes, manufacturers and/or distributors.

The information below includes general information and guidelines for patients taking this medication and should never be used to substitute professional medical advice that can be provided by a qualified physician or family doctor.


Strength(s): 100 MG
Imprint: GX CG5

Strength(s): 300 MG
Imprint: GX EJ7

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