Ziagen is an oral tablet made up of a nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitor called abacavir. We carry Ziagen in both the brand name and generic alternative in 300mg.
Ziagen is often prescribed along with other medications to help control the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). HIV is spread through human fluids such as blood, saliva, semen, and vaginal fluids. This virus will slowly weaken your immune system over time, which can become fatal if it progresses to AIDS. The immune system is the body’s “bodyguard” as it is in charge of defending the body against any threats, such as infections and disease. When HIV weakens your immune system so much to the point where it is no longer capable of fighting infections and diseases, you have AIDS. AIDS can be life-threatening if not treated as infections and diseases are able to thrive in your body without an immune system to fight them off.
Ziagen (abacavir) is effective at controlling HIV because of its power to stop the virus from growing more, and by doing this, it allows the immune system to work better. This also lowers your chance of getting AIDS and other HIV complications such as infections or cancer.
Your doctor will tell you before prescribing you Ziagen (abacavir) exactly how to take this medication. Follow his or her directions, they can usually be found on the prescription label if you forget. It is likely you will need frequent medical tests while being treated with this medication.
You may take the Ziagen tablet with or without food, as directed by your doctor.
Store this medication in room temperature away from risks of moisture and heat.
Do not use Ziagen (abacavir)
Do not use Ziagen if you have moderate to severe liver disease, you have a gene variation called HLA-B*5701 allele (your doctor will test you for this), or if you have ever had an allergic reaction to any medicine that contains abacavir (this medication, Ziagen, and others such as Epzicom, Triumeq, or Trizivir.
Dose adjustment or special precautions may be required
To ensure this medication is safe for you, tell your doctor if you have ever had heart disease, high blood pressure, a risk factor for heart disease such as smoking, diabetes, or high cholesterol, liver disease, or if you have used any other HIV medications in the past.
You may end up developing a dangerous buildup of lactic acid in the blood; this is called lactic acidosis. Ask your doctor about your risk before starting treatment and monitor yourself for warning signs once you’ve started treatment. (See side effects for warning signs of lactic acidosis).
It is important to keep HIV under control during pregnancy. If you are pregnant, tell your doctor. Your name may be added to a registry to track the effects of this drug on the baby.
Do not breast feed if you have HIV; you can pass the virus to a nursing infant through breast milk.
This medication can cause damage to your liver; this can be serious and life-threatening. Monitor yourself for warning signs and notify your doctor right away if you suspect liver damage. (See side effects for signs of liver damage).
Common side effects of Ziagen (abacavir) may include:
sleep problems, strange dreams; headache, tiredness, fever, chills, general ill feeling; nausea or vomiting; rash; or (in children) stuffy nose, sneezing, sore throat, ear pain.
The above side effects should not alarm you. Please note, not everyone will have side effects, while others may have 2 or more at a time.
Serious side effects of Ziagen (abacavir) may include:
trouble speaking or swallowing, problems with balance or eye movement, weakness or prickly feeling; or swelling in your neck or throat (enlarged thyroid), menstrual changes, impotence.
If you have any of the above side effects, contact your doctor right away.
Contact your doctor if you notice signs of…
liver damage: nausea, upper stomach pain, itching, tired feeling, flu-like symptoms, loss of appetite, dark urine, clay-colored stools, jaundice (yellowing of the skin or eyes);
a new infection: fever, night sweats, swollen glands, cold sores, cough, wheezing, diarrhea, weight loss; or
lactic acidosis: unusual muscle pain, trouble breathing, stomach pain, vomiting, irregular heart rate, dizziness, feeling cold, or feeling very weak or tired.
***Once you have an allergic reaction to Ziagen, you must never use it again.***
If you have symptoms from 2 or more of the listed groups below, call your doctor as you may be having an allergic reaction;
Group 1 - fever;
Group 2 - rash;
Group 3 - nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, stomach pain;
Group 4 - general ill feeling, extreme tiredness, body aches;
Group 5 - shortness of breath, cough, sore throat.
What other drugs may interact with Ziagen?
Other medications that may interact with Ziagen include methadone and other HIV medications such as Trizivir, Epzicom, Descovy, and Truvada.
This is not a complete list of drugs that interact with abacavir (Ziagen). Consult your doctor to inquire more about which drugs interact with this one.
What if I miss a dose?
Take the missed dose as soon as you remember or skip it if your next dose is approaching soon. Do not attempt to make up for a missed dose by doubling up on dosages.
What if I miss several doses?
If you miss several doses, you may end up having an allergic reaction to the medication, which will prevent you from ever using it again. If you miss several doses, consult your doctor about how to safely start the medication again.
What should I avoid while using Ziagen?
Avoid drinking alcohol while being treated with Ziagen. Drinking alcohol while also taking abacavir (Ziagen) can increase your risk of liver damage even more.
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