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What is Abacavir Sulfate (Ziagen) Used For? Side Effects and Dosage

What is Abacavir Sulfate (Ziagen)?

Abacavir sulfate is an antiretroviral drug from the nucleoside analogue, or ‘nuke’, class. The abacavir brand name is Ziagen. This medication is taken by HIV patients alongside other anti-HIV drugs. Ziagen is manufactured and distributed in the United States by ViiV Healthcare.

What is This Medication Used For?

Abacavir sulfate is used to treat HIV. Though there is no cure for HIV, the abacavir drug class of nucleoside analogues interferes with the enzyme called reverse transcriptase (RT). In doing so, this medication inhibits HIV-infected cells from making new viruses, slowing the spread of the virus.

Abacavir sulfate is used in combination with other antiretroviral drugs in a treatment called antiretroviral therapy (ART). Typically, it is taken with drugs from different classes, including protease inhibitors and/or non-nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors (‘non-nukes’). Antiretroviral therapy helps increase patients’ CD4+ cell count and decrease their viral load (the amount of HIV in the blood).

How to Take It

Abacavir medication is taken orally as either a tablet or a liquid. Taken in combination with other prescribed antiretroviral medications, it can be taken with or without food.

There are some drug interactions that patients should be aware of if they are taking abacavir. Studies have shown that the   of alcohol when taking abacavir can results in an increase in toxic effects. This drugcan also reduce level of methadone in the blood, so patients prescribed methadone may require an adjustment to their dose.

Abacavir Sulfate Side Effects

There are some side effects associated with taking abacavir. In addition to common and severe side effects, up to 8% of patients who use this medicine may experience a serious allergic reaction. Signs of this hypersensitivity include fever, rash, gastrointestinal symptoms, general symptoms, and respiratory systems. The manufacturer states that if patients develop symptoms from two or more of these groups, then they should immediately stop taking the medication and contact a doctor. This hypersensitivity is very serious and could be fatal.

Common Side Effects

  • Headache
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Unexpected tiredness
  • Diarrhea
  • Loss of appetite
  • Fever
  • Skin rash

Severe Side Effects

  • Hypersensitivity

Ziagen Dosage

The standard dosage for adult patients is 600 mg per day, taken as either one tablet twice daily, or two tablets once daily. Consult a doctor or pharmacist to ensure that your dosage is customized to your needs.

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