- HIV AIDS Myths and Facts Slideshow Pictures
- Take the HIV/AIDS Quiz
- AIDS Retrospective Slideshow Pictures
- What is abacavir, and how does it work (mechanism of action)?
- What brand names are available for abacavir?
- Is abacavir available as a generic drug?
- Do I need a prescription for abacavir?
- What are the side effects of abacavir?
- What is the dosage for abacavir?
- Which drugs or supplements interact with abacavir?
- Is abacavir safe to take if I'm pregnant or breastfeeding?
- What else should I know about abacavir?
What is abacavir, and how does it work (mechanism of action)?
Abacavir is an oral medication that is used for the treatment of infections with the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). It is in a class of drugs called reverse transcriptase inhibitors which also includes zalcitabine (Hivid), zidovudine (Retrovir), didanosine (Videx), lamivudine (Epivir), emtricitabine (Emtriva), and stavudine (Zerit). During infection with HIV, the HIV virus multiplies within the body's cells. The newly-formed viruses then are released from the cells and spread throughout the body where they infect other cells. In this manner, the infection continually 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 enzyme that the virus uses to form this new DNA. Specifically, abacavir is converted within the body to its active form (carbovir triphosphate). This active form is similar to a compound (deoxyguanosine triphosphate), a chemical that is required by the HIV virus to make new DNA. The reverse transcriptase uses carbovir triphosphate instead of deoxyguanosine triphosphate for making DNA, and it is the carbovir triphosphate that interferes with the reverse transcriptase. Abacavir does not kill existing HIV virus, and it is not a cure for HIV. The FDA approved abacavir in December 1998.
What are the side effects of abacavir?
The most common side effects are:
- allergic reactions,
- loss of appetite,
- difficulty sleeping,
- muscle pain,
- increased triglyceride levels,
- depression, and
The most serious side effects are severe allergic reactions, pancreatitis, liver failure, and metabolic disturbance (lactic acidosis). Symptoms of an allergic reaction include skin rash, fever, weakness, swelling and difficulty breathing. Abacavir must be stopped as soon an allergic reaction is suspected, and it should not be restarted after an allergic reaction.
Quick GuideHIV AIDS Facts: Symptoms and Treatments
What is the dosage for abacavir?
The recommended dose for adults is 300 mg twice daily or 600 mg once daily. Children (3 months and older) should receive 8 mg/kg twice daily of the solution, and the maximum recommended dose is 300 mg twice daily. Pediatric patients weighing 14 kg or more may also be treated with abacavir tablets at doses of 300, 450, or 600 mg daily based on weight. Abacavir may be administered with or without food since food does not affect its absorption.
Which drugs or supplements interact with abacavir?
Alcohol competes with abacavir for elimination from the body. Therefore, alcohol consumption may increase the concentration of abacavir in the body, and this could lead to increased frequency or severity of side effects from abacavir. Abacavir does not affect the elimination of alcohol.
Is abacavir safe to take if I'm pregnant or breastfeeding?
Use of abacavir during pregnancy has not been adequately evaluated.
It is not known whether abacavir is excreted in breast milk. HIV infected mothers should not breast feed because of the potential risk of transmitting HIV to an infant that is not infected.
What else should I know about abacavir?
What preparations of abacavir are available?
Tablets: 300 mg; oral solution: 20 mg/ml
How should I keep abacavir stored?
Capsules and solution should be stored at room temperature, 15C to 30 C (59 F to 86F). The oral solution may be refrigerated but should not be frozen.
Reference: FDA Prescribing Information
Abacavir (Ziagen) is a drug prescribed when in used in combination of other anti-HIV drugs to treat HIV infection. Side effects, Drug interactions, and dosage information should be reviewed prior to taking this medication.
Multimedia: Slideshows, Images & Quizzes
HIV & AIDS Quiz: HIV Testing & Symptoms
Now, more than ever, you should know about HIV/AIDS, especially its causes, symptoms treatments, and complications. Take the...
Picture of HIV/AIDS
Acronym for the Human Immunodeficiency Virus, the cause of AIDS (acquired immunodeficiency syndrome). See a picture of HIV/AIDS...
Related Disease Conditions
Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV)
The human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) causes HIV infection and the acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS). Symptoms and signs...
Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome
AIDS is the advanced stage of HIV infection. Symptoms and signs of AIDS include pneumonia due to Pneumocystis jiroveci,...
Treatment & Diagnosis
- HIV-AIDS FAQs
- Prescriptions: Complying with the Doctor's Orders
- How To Reduce Your Medication Costs
- Pharmacy Visit, How To Get The Most Out of Your Visit
- Indications for Drugs: Approved vs. Non-approved
- Generic Drugs, Are They as Good as Brand-Names?
- Drugs: Buying Prescription Drugs Online Safely
- Drugs: The Most Common Medication Errors
- Medication Disposal - What to Do with Old or Unusable Medication
- Dangers of Mixing Medications
Medications & Supplements
Prevention & Wellness
Daily Health News
Resources for Staying Well
Subscribe to MedicineNet's General Health Newsletter
Report Problems to the Food and Drug Administration
You are encouraged to report negative side effects of prescription drugs to the FDA. Visit the FDA MedWatch website or call 1-800-FDA-1088.
Top abacavir Related ArticlesComplete List
abacavir, lamivudine, zidovudineAbacavir, lamivudine, zidovudine (Trizivir) is a combination drug prescribed to treat human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infections. Side effects, drug interactions, dosage, and pregnancy information should be reviewed prior to taking this medication.
Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS)AIDS is the advanced stage of HIV infection. Symptoms and signs of AIDS include pneumonia due to Pneumocystis jiroveci, tuberculosis, toxoplasmosis, seizures, weakness, meningitis, yeast infection of the esophagus, and Kaposi's sarcoma. Anti-retroviral therapy (HAART) is used in the treatment of AIDS.
didanosineDidanosine (Videx, Videx EC) is a drug prescribed for the treatment of the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) in adults and children. Side effects, drug interactions, pregnancy safety, and warnings and precautions should be reviewed prior to taking this medication.
Drug InteractionsDrug interactions occur frequently. Get facts about the types of drug interactions, what substances or other things that may interact with drugs such as OTC drug and prescription drugs, vitamins, food(s) (grapefruit), and laboratory tests. Find out how to protect yourself from potential drug interactions.
Drugs: What You Should Know About Your DrugsImportant information about your drugs should be reviewed prior to taking any prescription drug. Side effects, drug interactions, warnings and precauctions, dosage, what the drug is used for, what to do if you miss a dose, how the drug is to be stored, and generic vs. brand names.
HIV/AIDS QuizNow, more than ever, you should know about HIV/AIDS, especially its causes, symptoms treatments, and complications. Take the HIV/AIDS Quiz now!
HIV/AIDS PictureAcronym for the Human Immunodeficiency Virus, the cause of AIDS (acquired immunodeficiency syndrome). See a picture of HIV/AIDS and learn more about the health topic.
Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV)The human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) causes HIV infection and the acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS). Symptoms and signs of HIV infection include fatigue, enlarged lymph glands, and recurrent vaginal yeast infections. Highly active antiretroviral therapy (ART) is the standard treatment for HIV infection.
Lamivudine (3tc) (Epivir; Epivir HBV) is a drug prescribed for the treatment of HIV infection and hepatitis B infection. The most serious side include
- muscle pain,
- liver failure,
- pancreatitis, and
- liver failure.
Drug interactions, and dosage, and pregnancy and breastfeeding safety information should be reviewed prior to taking this medication.
lamivudine and zidovudine
Combivir (lamivudine and zidovudine) is a drug that is used in combination with other agents to treat HIV infection. Serious side effects include:
- Fatty liver
- Liver enlargement
- Lactic acidosis.
Drug interactions, and dosage, and pregnancy and breastfeeding information should be reviewed prior to taking this medication.
stavudineStavudine (Zerit) is a medication prescribed for the treatment of HIV infection. Zerit is prescribed to be used in combination with other anti-HIV infection drugs. Side effects, drug interactions, dosage, and pregnancy safety should be reviewed prior to taking this medication.
Retrovir (zidovudine, ZDV, formerly called AZT) is a medication (oral and injectable) prescribed for the treatment of infections with HIV (human immunodeficiency virus). Side effects include:
- Weight loss
Drug interactions, dosage, and pregnancy and breastfeeding safety information, and dosing should be reviewed before taking any medication.