Ziagen is part of the family of HIV medications that are used in conjunction with each other to slow or stop the HIV virus from reproducing within the body. Often generically prescribed as abacavir sulfate, it is not used without other medications to slow the HIV progression. Ziagen is part of a treatment option for HIV and it is not a cure. Patients should understand that it is still possible to spread the disease to others even while undergoing drug therapy with Ziagen. Ziagen is a reverse transcriptase inhibitor.
Ziagen is not appropriate for all patients. A thorough medical history needs to be evaluated in order to avoid potential complications. Patients with a history of allergies to Combivir, Epzicom, Trizivir, or another medication that contains abacavir can not take Ziagen. Patients with a history of liver disease or kidney disease may not be able to tolerate Ziagen or may require careful monitoring while undergoing drug therapy with this medication, depending on the condition and the severity of the condition.
The American Food and Drug Administration determined that Ziagen is a pregnancy risk category C which means that this medication may cause harm or birth defects in an unborn baby. Ziagen can pass through the mother’s breast milk and affect the nursing baby, although women who are HIV positive can pass the HIV virus through their breast milk and are heavily discouraged from breast feeding. Treatment during pregnancy is still important despite the risks that medication may present. Patients left untreated during their pregnancy have an 80% higher risk of passing HIV onto their newborn.
There is a risk of side effects associated with taking Ziagen, some which can be quite serious. It is possible to have a near fatal or fatal allergic reaction when starting this medication, or when having stopped the medication and re-started it, such as when a prescription has run out. An allergic reaction to Ziagen includes symptoms such as nausea, vomiting diarrhea, fever, rash, stomach pain, body aches, general tiredness or malaise, sore throat, shortness of breath, and cough. Additional life threatening symptoms are likely to arise if the patient takes more medication after the start of an allergic reaction.
Ziagen is also associated with a condition known as lactic acidosis, which can be fatal. Patients experiencing trouble breathing, muscle pain, muscle weakness, nausea, vomiting, stomach pain, fast or uneven heart rate, or numb or cold in the extremities require urgent medical care.
Other serious side effects requiring urgent medical assistance include fever, chills, body aches, and flu symptoms, white patches on the inside of the mouth, cheeks, or throat, low fever with stomach pain, loss of appetite, dark urine, clay colored stools, and jaundice, or muscle pain with weakness, nausea, and vomiting.
Less serious side effects do not require urgent medical attention and may include insomnia, strange dreams, headaches, diarrhea, and changes in the body’s composition of body fat.
Ziagen should be taken as prescribed. If a patient misses a dose, the missed dose of Ziagen can be taken when remembered unless it is almost time for the next scheduled dose. Taking doses too closely together or taking double doses of Ziagen can result in an overdose. If an overdose of Ziagen is suspected, the patient requires immediate medical care. Symptoms of an overdose are not readily known, but are likely to encourage a serious allergic reaction, nausea, vomiting, changes in heart rate, and possibly liver or kidney damage.
Medications should not be mixed with Ziagen, and a thorough medical history requires assessment prior to prescribing this medication. Patients taking Ziagen should be urged to inquire with the prescribing physician before taking any new medication, including over the counter medications or herbal remedies. Medications with known interactions include methadone, and medications that are likely to cause nausea or vomiting.
Ziagen has the following structural formula:
• Molecular formula of ziagen is C14H18N6O
• Chemical IUPAC Name is [4-(2-amino-6-cyclopropylamino-9H-purin-9-yl)-1-cyclopent-2-enyl]methanol
• Molecular weight is 286.333 g/mol
• Ziagen available : 20mg/ml solution, 300mg tablets
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