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Abacavir is known to have caused severe and at times fatal allergic reactions in some people. Discuss with your doctor and undergo genetic testing, before you take the Abacavir.

Pronunciation: A-BAK-a-vir

What is it

Abacavir is a nucleoside analog reverse transcriptase inhibitor (NRTI) that is used to treat HIV 1 infections. The medicine helps in slowing down the growth of HIV virus that causes AIDS.

Brand names with manufacturer



It is a prescription only drug.



Abacavir tablets, along with other medications is used to treat the HIV infection. It belongs to the nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors (NRTIs). The medicine does not cure HIV, but reduces one’s chances of developing AIDS and other HIV-related diseases such as cancer or serious infections.


Abacavir in combination with other antiviral medications is used to prevent HIV infection in those who have been exposed to the virus. There may be other uses of the drug; speak to your doctor or pharmacist for more information.

What should I know before taking this drug

How to take it

Abacavir is available in the form of a tablet or liquid. It has to be ingested by mouth. The medicine is taken one or two times a day with or without food. Make sure you take the drug at the same time every day. Take the medicine as advised by the doctor. If you have any doubts, speak to your doctor or pharmacist about it.

Remember, Abacavir helps in controlling the HIV virus, not cure it. So, never stop the drug, even if you feel well. If you ever stop or skip the dose, tell your doctor about it. It may worsen your infection or trigger an allergic reaction when restarting it. Thus, make sure you have plenty of tablets or liquid available at all times, so that you don’ t run out of it.

Adverse reactions/side effects

There are many side effects of Abacavir. Speak to your doctor if the following symptoms get severe or remain persistent:

  • Headache
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Trouble falling asleep or staying asleep

The serious side effects of Abacavir that requires immediate medical attention includes:

  • Blisters
  • Peeling of skin
  • Itching
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Problems breathing
  • Chills

In some people, it may lead to hypersensitivity. This can be so severe, that it may lead to death. Thus, every person suggested with Abacavir is asked to undergo genetic testing. The hypersensitivity syndrome is associated with a specific allele at the human leukocyte antigen B locus, HLA -B*57:01. Symptoms of abacavir hypersensitivity include:

  • Fever
  • Malaise
  • Nausea
  • Diarrhea
  • Skin rash
  • When not to take the medicine

Do not take the medicine when:

  • You are allergic to any ingredient in the tablet
  • Suffer from moderate to severe liver problems
  • Take other medicines that contain abacavir


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If a child is given abacavir, the dose needs to be adjusted according to the child’s weight changes. Make sure you check the weight of the child often. Speak to the doctor before changing the child’s dose.

Pregnant women

If you get pregnant, discuss with your doctor regarding the effects of abacavir on your fetus.

Lactating women

There is no information regarding the presence of abacavir in breast milk. Also, HIV positive mothers should refrain from breastfeeding, as there is a risk of transferring the HIV virus to the baby.


Abacavir may cause dizziness, thus do not drive or operate machines when taking the drug. Never take the drug with alcohol or certain medicines as it may worsen dizziness.

If you have to stop taking abacavir for some reason and the doctor re-introduces the drug, make sure you take it only in the presence of other people. This is because one may require immediate medical help, due to hypersensitivity to the drug.

The drug may cause changes in the body fat in some patients. You may find an increase in fat in the neck, breast, trunk or upper back. There will be a loss of fat in the legs, arms and face.

Abacavir does not prevent spread HIV. Thus, make sure you have protected sex always and never share needles, toothbrushes or razors.

What should I do if

  • I miss dose(s): Take the dose as soon as you remember it. If it is time for the next dose, skip the one missed and take the next dose. Never double dose.
  • I overdose: Call your doctor or emergency medical service immediately.

What to discuss with the doctor/pharmacist

Drug interactions: Abacavir can interact with other drugs or supplements. Thus, make sure you inform your doctor about all the drugs or supplements you are taking.

Dosage form:

You require a medication guide and warning card with every new prescription and refill. Abacavir is available in tablet forms as well as oral solutions.


Adults are prescribed 2 tablets of 300 mg twice daily. Pediatric patients who are about 3 months and older are given a dose calculated according to body weight (kg). Their dose should not exceed 300 mg, two a day. Patients with mild liver problems are given 200 mg twice daily. Those with moderate liver problems are not prescribed abacavir.


Store abacavir at room temperature. Do not freeze. Keep away from heat, moisture, and light. Keep away from children and pets. Never store in the bathroom.

Additional information if any:

Never share the drug with anybody. This drug is to be taken only under prescription. If you have any questions, speak to your doctor about it.

Written by: healthplus24.com team

Date last updated: June 08, 2015

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