Epivir is an HIV medication. It is in a category of HIV medications called nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors (NRTIs). Epivir prevents HIV from altering the genetic material of healthy CD4 cells. This prevents the cells from producing new virus and decreases the amount of virus in the body.
Epivir, manufactured by ViiV Healthcare, was approved for the treatment of HIV by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 1995.
Epivir is available in pharmacies as a single drug, which is always combined with other HIV drugs, or in three combination tablets: Combivir (Retrovir and Epivir), Trizivir (Retrovir, Ziagen, and Epivir), or Epzicom (Ziagen and Epivir).
Epivir is also approved for the treatment of chronic hepatitis B infection (Epivir HBV). The Epivir dose normally used to treat hepatitis B is one 100mg tablet once a day. The dose used to treat HIV is one 300mg tablet once a day, or one 150mg tablet every 12 hours. If you are infected with both HIV and hepatitis B, it is important that you take the dose used to treat HIV.
Rarely, Epivir can cause inflammation of the pancreas (pancreatitis). Pancreatitis is a rare but serious side effect that can be life-threatening in some cases. Notify your doctor immediately if you develop symptoms of pancreatitis, including nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and abdominal pain.
Another rare side effect of Epivir is peripheral neuropathy, which can result in pain, tingling, numbness, or burning in the hands and/or feet. Stopping Epivir and starting another NRTI that does not usually cause peripheral neuropathy—for example, Retrovir or Ziagen—is often the best way to stop peripheral neuropathy.