What is this medication?
ABACAVIR (a ba KA vir) helps manage the symptoms of HIV infection. It works by limiting the spread of HIV in the body. This medication is not a cure for HIV or AIDS and it may still be possible to spread HIV to others while taking it. It does not prevent other sexually transmitted infections (STIs).
This medicine may be used for other purposes; ask your health care provider or pharmacist if you have questions.
COMMON BRAND NAME(S): Ziagen, Ziagen Solution
What should I tell my care team before I take this medication?
They need to know if you have any of these conditions:
- Frequently drink alcohol
- Heart disease
- Liver disease
- Tobacco use
- An unusual or allergic reaction to abacavir, other medications, foods, dyes, or preservatives
- Pregnant or trying to get pregnant
How should I use this medication?
Take this medication by mouth with water. Use a specially marked oral syringe, spoon, or dropper to measure each dose. Ask your pharmacist if you do not have one. Household spoons are not accurate.
You can take this medication with or without food. If it upsets your stomach, take it with food.
For your therapy to work as well as possible, take each dose exactly as prescribed on the prescription label. Do not skip doses. Skipping doses can make the HIV virus resistant to this medication and other medications. Keep taking this therapy unless your care team tells you to stop.
A special MedGuide will be given to you by the pharmacist with each prescription and refill. Be sure to read this information carefully each time.
Talk to your care team about the use of this medication in children. While this medication may be prescribed for children as young as 3 months old for selected conditions, precautions do apply.
Overdosage: If you think you have taken too much of this medicine contact a poison control center or emergency room at once.
NOTE: This medicine is only for you. Do not share this medicine with others.
What if I miss a dose?
If you miss a dose, take it as soon as you can. If it is almost time for your next dose, take only that dose. Do not take double or extra doses.
What may interact with this medication?
- Alcohol or alcohol-containing products
- Any other medication that contains abacavir
This list may not describe all possible interactions. Give your health care provider a list of all the medicines, herbs, non-prescription drugs, or dietary supplements you use. Also tell them if you smoke, drink alcohol, or use illegal drugs. Some items may interact with your medicine.
What should I watch for while using this medication?
Visit your care team for regular checks on your progress. Discuss any new symptoms with your care team. You may need blood work done while taking this medication.
HIV is spread to others through sexual or blood contact. Talk to your care team about how to stop the spread of HIV.
A small number of people may have a severe allergy to this medication. Some symptoms are a skin rash, fever, nausea, vomiting, stomach pain, severe tiredness, aches, or generally feeling sick. A list of these symptoms is on the Warning Card given to you by your pharmacist. You should carry this Warning Card with you. If you have these symptoms while taking this medication, stop the medication and call your care team right away.
This medication may cause serious skin reactions. They can happen weeks to months after starting the medication. Contact your care team right away if you notice fevers or flu-like symptoms with a rash. The rash may be red or purple and then turn into blisters or peeling of the skin. You may also notice a red rash with swelling of the face, lips, or lymph nodes in your neck or under your arms.
If you stop this medication because you ran out of medication or because you may have had an allergic reaction, talk to your care team. Do not restart this medication without your care team’s advice. Severe hypersensitivity reactions can occur within hours and may include life-threatening hypotension and death.
What side effects may I notice from receiving this medication?
Side effects that you should report to your care team as soon as possible:
- Allergic reactions or angioedema—skin rash, itching or hives, swelling of the face, eyes, lips, tongue, arms, or legs, trouble swallowing or breathing
- Heart attack—pain or tightness in the chest, shoulders, arms, or jaw, nausea, shortness of breath, cold or clammy skin, feeling faint or lightheaded
- High lactic acid level—muscle pain or cramps, stomach pain, trouble breathing, general discomfort and fatigue
- Infection—fever, chills, cough, or sore throat
- Liver injury—right upper belly pain, loss of appetite, nausea, light-colored stool, dark yellow or brown urine, yellowing skin or eyes, unusual weakness or fatigue
Side effects that usually do not require medical attention (report to your care team if they continue or are bothersome):
- Trouble sleeping
- Worsening mood, feelings of depression
This list may not describe all possible side effects. Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.
Where should I keep my medication?
Keep out of the reach of children and pets.
Store in a refrigerator or at room temperature between 20 and 25 degrees C (68 and 77 degrees F). Do not freeze. The solution may turn brown over time. Throw away any unused medication after the expiration date.
To get rid of medications that are no longer wanted or have expired:
- Take the medication to a medication take-back program. Ask your pharmacy or law enforcement to find a location.
- If you cannot return the medication, check the label or package insert to see if the medication should be thrown out in the garbage or flushed down the toilet. If you are not sure, ask your care team. If it is safe to put it in the trash, empty the medication out of the container. Mix the medication with cat litter, dirt, coffee grounds, or other unwanted substance. Put it in the trash.
NOTE: This sheet is a summary. It may not cover all possible information. If you have questions about this medicine, talk to your doctor, pharmacist, or health care provider.