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What is Combivir Medication Used For? Side Effects and Dosage

What is Combivir Medication Used For? Side Effects and Dosage


What is Combivir?

Combivir is an anti-HIV drug that combines two nucleoside analogue (‘nuke’) antiretroviral drugs: lamivudine and zidovudine. Each tablet of Combivir contains zidovudine, brand name Retrovir, and lamivudine, brand name Epivir and commonly called 3TC. Combivir is the brand name of the drug, which is manufactured by ViiV Healthcare.

What is This Medication Used For?

Combivir drug is used as part of antiretroviral therapy (ART), which is when a combination of medications is prescribed to help treat HIV. There is no current cure for HIV, but the drug is used to prevent HIV-infected cells from spreading the virus.

The combination of lamivudine/zidovudine is used to inhibit the enzyme reverse transcriptase (RT). Reverse transcriptase is used by HIV-infected cells to spread new viruses, so when the enzyme is inhibited, fewer viruses are produced. Combivir medication is used in combination with other antiretroviral drugs from different classes, such as non-nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors (‘non-nukes’) and/or protease inhibitors.

How to Take Lamivudine/Zidovudine

Combivir comes in a capsule that is taken orally along with other anti-retroviral drugs. It should be taken twice daily either with or without food.

Combivir Side Effects

Combivir has been tested for safety and efficiency but there are some possible adverse effects. If you experience severe side effects, stop taking the drug and contact your doctor immediately.

Common Side Effects

  • Headache
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Unexpected tiredness
  • Diarrhea
  • Loss of appetite
  • Insomnia
  • Muscle pain

Severe Side Effects 

  • A numbing, tingling, or burning sensation in hands or feet (peripheral neuropathy)
  • A decrease in the number of white blood cells called neutrophils (neutrophenia)
  • A decrease in hemoglobin or red blood cells (anemia)
  • Weakness or loss of muscle


Combivir comes in tablet form and contains 300 mg of zidovudine and 150 mg of lamivudine. The standard dose for an adult is one tablet taken twice daily. However, the dosage may need to be customized depending on what other medications you are taking.

Drug Interactions

There are currently no reports of significant drug interactions with lamivudine, however, zidovudine has been known to interact with some medications. Zidovudine has been proven to interact with stavudine, brand name Zerit and commonly known as d4T. As such, Combivir and d4T should never be taken together. Advise your doctor of any other prescription or non-prescriptions you are taking before using this medicine.

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