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Description and mechanism of action
Combivir is an anti-retroviral medication that can be used in both adults and children and is made up of two Nucleoside Reverse Transcriptase Inhibitors (NRTIs);Lamivudine, 150mg and Zidovudine, 300mg as a single oral pill. Nucleoside Reverse Transcriptase Inhibitors (NRTIs). NRTIs work by blocking the effect of HIV reverse transcriptase, which is an HIV enzyme that aids replication of the virus by altering the genetic composition of healthy CD4 cells, (AIDSMEDS, 2011). Hence by blocking the enzyme the rate of virus multiplication is reduced and consequently the amount of HIV cells in the blood is reduced. Combivir’s effectiveness is enhanced by combining it with other antiretroviral drugs.
The normal dosage is one pill in the morning and one in the evening for persons weighing more than 30kgs but it should be administered based on body weight for persons weighing less than 30kgs, (AIDSinfo Drug Database, 2011). However, all drugs should be taken as prescribed. Combivir can be ingested together with meals or without meals. In case of over dosage, the patient should be rushed to hospital right away.
Combivir should not be taken together with other drugs that contain any of the two ingredients such as Emtriva or Truvada or by patients who have known allergies to any of the ingredients. Normally people living with HIV/AIDS should not breastfeed and so is the case with the use of Combivir. Animal studies on use of Combivir in pregnancy have shown adverse effects on the fetus making Combivir a pregnancy category C drug, (AIDSMEDS, 2011).This means that, the use of the drug during pregnancy should be under a doctor’s advice only when the advantages are more than the disadvantages.
The side effects of Combivir can be fatal. They include blood disorders such as anaemia and neutropenia caused by bone marrow malfunction associated with use of zidovudine, lactic acidosis which is an accumulation of acid in the blood characterized by nausea and vomiting, muscle disorders known as myopathy which can affect even the heart muscles and liver malfunction characterized by yellowing of skin and upper stomach pains. Patients co-infected with hepatitis B and/or hepatitis C are at a greater risk of severe liver damage if use of Lamivudine which is a component of Combivir is stopped, (AIDSinfo Drug Database, 2011; AIDSMEDS, 2011).
Patient pertinent Information
It is important for every patient to let their HIV health care providers know of any other drugs that they may be using whether by prescription or over the counter. This helps in determination of drug interactions as Combivir affects the way other drugs function and other drugs affect the way Combivir acts. Also patients should let their health care providers know of any pre existing health conditions as these may alter the way drugs are administered as well as the type of drugs.
Patients should be made to understand all the side effects of the drug composition and their safety precautions such as consulting a physician before taking other medications to avoid adverse reactions. They should also be advised on proper practice to avoid the spread of the virus to others, (AIDSinfo Drug Database, 2011).
Combivir should be stored under tight seal preferably in the original packaging container and kept between 36oF and 86oF away from excessive heat and moisture.
AIDSinfo Drug Database, 2011. AIDSinfo: Offering Information on HIV/AIDs Treatment, Prevention and Research. Web.
AIDSMEDS, 2011. AIDSMEDS: Your ultimate Guide to HIV Care. Web.