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Side Effects
Serious

Uncommon (in approximately 5% of patients) and possibly fatal hypersensitivity reactions have been reported. Symptoms may include fever, skin rash, fatigue, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, weakness, lethargy, muscle and joint pain, swelling, shortness of breath, numbness, tingling, or prickling sensations, conjunctivitis, and mouth sores. Stop taking the drug and call your doctor immediately. Rarely, abacavir can also cause lactic acidosis, which is often fatal, and a greatly enlarged liver.
Common

Nausea, vomiting, weakness, fatigue, headache, loss of appetite, and diarrhea.
Less Common

Insomnia and other sleep disorders.
Abacavir Sulfate


Drug Class:
Antiviral/reverse transcriptase inhibitor

Available OTC?: No

Available Generic?: No

 

Available In
Why Prescribed
How It Works
Range and Frequency
Onset of Effect
Duration of Action
Dietary Advice
Storage
Missed Dose
Stopping the Drug
Prolonged Use
Over 60
Driving and Hazardous Work
Alcohol
Pregnancy
Breast Feeding
Infants and Children
Special Concerns
Overdose Symptoms
What to Do
Drug Interactions
Food Interactions
Disease Interactions


Available In
Tablets, oral solution

Why Prescribed
To treat human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection in combination with other drugs. While not a cure for HIV, such drugs may suppress the replication of the virus and delay the progression of the disease.

How It Works
Abacavir prevents HIV from reproducing in two ways. A metabolite of the drug inhibits the activity of an enzyme needed for the replication of DNA in viral cells. The metabolite is also incorporated into viral DNA and terminates the formation of the complete DNA.

Range and Frequency
Adults: To start, 300 mg 2 times a day. The drug must be taken in combination with other drugs for HIV to delay the development of resistant strains of the virus. Children three months to 16 years: 8 mg per 2.2 lbs (1 kg) of body weight 2 times a day in combination with other drugs for HIV. Children should take no more than 300 mg twice a day.

Onset of Effect
Unknown. With most antiretroviral drugs, an early response can be seen within the first few days of therapy, but the maximum effect may take 12 to 16 weeks.

Duration of Action
Unknown. Effects of the drug may be prolonged when abacavir is used in combination with other effective drugs and the virus is maximally suppressed.

Dietary Advice
Abacavir can be taken with or without food.

Storage
Store at room temperature in a tightly sealed container away from heat, moisture, and direct light. The oral solution may be refrigerated, but should not be allowed to freeze.

Missed Dose
Take it as soon as you remember. If it is near the time for the next dose, skip the missed dose and resume your regular dosage schedule. Do not double the next dose. It is especially important to take abacavir on schedule, to assure constant, proper blood levels of the drug.

Stopping the Drug
The decision to stop taking the drug should be made in consultation with your physician.

Prolonged Use
See your doctor regularly for tests and examinations.

Over 60
It is not known whether abacavir causes different or more severe side effects in older patients.

Driving and Hazardous Work
Do not drive or engage in hazardous work until you determine how the medicine affects you.

Alcohol
Alcohol may raise the blood concentration of the drug.

Pregnancy
Abacavir has been shown to cause birth defects in animals. Human studies have not been done. This medication should be given during pregnancy only if potential benefits outweigh the risks to the unborn child.

Breast Feeding
Women infected with HIV should not breast feed, to avoid transmitting the virus to an uninfected child.

Infants and Children
Your pediatrician will determine the appropriate dosage based on your child's weight. Call your doctor immediately if you notice a rash or any other side effects while your child is taking abacavir. The drug has not been tested on infants less than three months of age.

Special Concerns
Use of abacavir does not eliminate the risk of passing the AIDS virus to other persons. You should take appropriate preventive measures.

Overdose Symptoms
No cases of overdose have been reported.

What to Do
If you suspect an overdose or if someone takes a much larger dose than prescribed, call your doctor, emergency medical services (EMS), or the nearest poison control center immediately.

Drug Interactions
Currently, there are no clinically significant drug interactions. Further studies are being conducted.

Food Interactions
No known food interactions.

Disease Interactions
Currently, there are no clinically significant disease interactions. Further studies are being conducted.

Date Published: 04/13/2005
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