1 What is Ziagen?

Brand: Ziagen

Generic: Abacavir

Ziagen is a drug used in patients with AIDS along with other medications. It belongs to the group of drugs called nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors.

AIDS (acquired immune deficiency syndrome) is caused by a retrovirus called HIV (Human immunodeficiency virus).

This virus attacks the immune system and makes the body prone to every kind of infection.

Abacavir does not cure or prevent AIDS or eradicate its symptoms, it works by keeping the reproduction of HIV virus in check.

It results in a lesser viral count in the body and helps the immune system by allowing it some time to regenerate. This is a prescription drug available in solution and tablet form.

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2 What to Know Before Using

Your doctor will inform you of what you need to know before using Ziagen. The decision of starting any new medication or any treatment method is done after the patient has informed the physician any doubts in his/her mind, and has also been informed of all the details by the physician.

Abacavir should be used according to a complete plan by a consulting doctor. It is a drug strictly for AIDS patients and hence is not prescribed to others. A detailed history of a patient is extremely important prior to any medical therapy and in this case, it is preferred that a drug is started after it.

Allergies or any history of allergy to any drug, food, preservatives, dyes or animal products, history of drug usage, past medical or surgical procedure should also be kept in a record to predict any drug interaction.

Physical examination should be done before starting this drug so that any physiological or pathological condition by which this drug may interfere may be ruled out.

Age-specific assessment is necessary to make it even more useful. Its safety has not been determined in children due to lack of enough studies. An elderly patient is more likely to have age-related liver, heart or kidney problems which may affect its functioning.

Its dangers in pregnant and breastfeeding women have not been established by enough studies, however, its use is restricted in such patients to avoid any fatal outcome to a mother or the baby.

Drug interactions may occur when many drugs are used together. There may be positive or negative effects on the working of Abacavir by other drugs. If this drug is used with Ribavirin, a doctor may change one of the two drugs to avoid potential complications.

When Abacavir is used with Tipranavir or methadone, the dose of these drugs may be decreased to avoid interactions. Other medical conditions, by which the patient is suffering, should be reported to the physician prior to therapy.

The conditions like hyperlipidemia, hypertension, diabetes, heart disease, genetic defects and liver disease may change the way this drug acts and result in more interactions.

3 Proper Usage

To use Ziagen properly, you must follow all instructions given by your doctor. The dosage of the drug depends on the severity of the medical condition.

It is a strictly prescription drug which comes with a warning letter which tells about problems if a dose punctuality is not maintained.

It should be taken 1-2 times a day, with or without food, as prescribed by the doctor. It is important to maintain a steady dose as a decrease in its quantity in blood causes increase in viral load.

As viruses increase, they affect immune system much more strongly. There is also resistance developed in the viruses during this period.

If one is using the solution form, use a measuring spoon or cup to get accurate dosage.

4 Precautions to Take

In using Ziagen, you must be careful and take some precautions as advised by your doctor.

Ziagen is a drug used by HIV patients and it is very important to know the tips by which its working can be enhanced or any condition which may worsen the condition can be avoided.

  • Regular visits to a doctor should be made sure to see if the drug is working properly.
  • Blood tests can be done to see any potential side effect.
  • Consult the doctor if any serious problem is suspected.
  • Do not start any medication, even OTC drugs, without consulting the doctor.
  • Avoid any combination drug while using abacavir.
  • Warning card is given when therapy with this medicine has begun. It must always be displayed on clinic visits.
  • Avoid sharing needles, razors or toothbrush with anyone. Use barrier methods of contraception to avoid the spread of HIV virus.
  • Storage of drug should in a dry environment with room temperature. Keep it away from the reach of children.

5 Potential Side Effects

Make sure you meet with your doctor in using Ziagen to avoid unwanted potential side effects. Ziagen is a strong drug whose aim is to decrease viral load of HIV, making it a high-profile drug. With greater strength come greater unwanted effects.

This drug is associated with unwanted allergic reactions, fever, nausea, diarrhea, joint pain, tingling sensation in hands and feet, headache, blisters formation, loosening of the skin, stomach pains, and shortness of breath, tiredness, vomiting and sore throat commonly.

Liver toxicity and lactic acidoses are the two rare and life-threatening complications. In females, an increase in weight is a common complaint. Consult your physician in case of any side effect for a better control over the situation.

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