Prescription Drug Information: Lamivudine and Zidovudine (Page 4 of 5)

12.4 Microbiology

Mechanism of Action
Lamivudine: Lamivudine is a synthetic nucleoside analogue. Intracellularly, lamivudine is phosphorylated to its active 5’-triphosphate metabolite, lamivudine triphosphate (3TC-TP). The principal mode of action of 3TC-TP is inhibition of reverse transcriptase (RT) via DNA chain termination after incorporation of the nucleotide analogue.
Zidovudine: Zidovudine is a synthetic nucleoside analogue. Intracellularly, zidovudine is phosphorylated to its active 5’-triphosphate metabolite, zidovudine triphosphate (ZDV-TP). The principal mode of action of ZDV-TP is inhibition of RT via DNA chain termination after incorporation of the nucleotide analogue.
Antiviral Activity
Lamivudine plus Zidovudine: In HIV-1-infected MT-4 cells, lamivudine in combination with zidovudine at various ratios was not antagonistic.
Lamivudine: The antiviral activity of lamivudine against HIV-1 was assessed in a number of cell lines including monocytes and fresh human peripheral blood lymphocytes (PBMCs) using standard susceptibility assays. EC50 values were in the range of 0.003 to 15 microM (1 microM = 0.23 mcg per mL). The median EC50 values of lamivudine were 60 nM (range: 20 to 70 nM), 35 nM (range: 30 to 40 nM), 30 nM (range: 20 to 90 nM), 20 nM (range: 3 to 40 nM), 30 nM (range: 1 to 60 nM), 30 nM (range: 20 to 70 nM), 30 nM (range: 3 to 70 nM), and 30 nM (range: 20 to 90 nM) against HIV-1 clades A-G and group O viruses (n = 3 except n = 2 for clade B) respectively. The EC50 values against HIV-2 isolates (n = 4) ranged from 0.003 to 0.120 microM in PBMCs. Ribavirin (50 microM) used in the treatment of chronic HCV infection decreased the anti-HIV-1 activity of lamivudine by 3.5-fold in MT-4 cells.
Zidovudine: The antiviral activity of zidovudine against HIV-1 was assessed in a number of cell lines including monocytes and fresh human peripheral blood lymphocytes. The EC50 and EC90 values for zidovudine were 0.01 to 0.49 microM (1 microM = 0.27 mcg per mL) and 0.1 to 9 microM, respectively. HIV-1 from therapy-naive subjects with no amino acid substitutions associated with resistance gave median EC50 values of 0.011 microM (range: 0.005 to 0.110 microM) from Virco (n = 92 baseline samples) and 0.0017 microM (range: 0.006 to 0.0340 microM) from Monogram Biosciences (n = 135 baseline samples). The EC50 values of zidovudine against different HIV-1 clades (A-G) ranged from 0.00018 to 0.02 microM, and against HIV-2 isolates from 0.00049 to 0.004 microM. Ribavirin has been found to inhibit the phosphorylation of zidovudine in cell culture.
Neither lamivudine nor zidovudine was antagonistic to tested anti-HIV agents, with the exception of stavudine where an antagonistic relationship with zidovudine has been demonstrated in cell culture. See full prescribing information for EPIVIR (lamivudine) and RETROVIR (zidovudine).
In subjects receiving lamivudine monotherapy or combination therapy with lamivudine plus zidovudine, HIV-1 isolates from most subjects became phenotypically and genotypically resistant to lamivudine within 12 weeks.
HIV-1 strains resistant to both lamivudine and zidovudine have been isolated from subjects after prolonged lamivudine/zidovudine therapy. Dual resistance required the presence of multiple amino acid substitutions, the most essential of which may be G333E. The incidence of dual resistance and the duration of combination therapy required before dual resistance occurs are unknown.
Lamivudine: Lamivudine-resistant isolates of HIV-1 have been selected in cell culture and have also been recovered from subjects treated with lamivudine or lamivudine plus zidovudine. Genotypic analysis of isolates selected in cell culture and recovered from lamivudine-treated subjects showed that the resistance was due to a specific amino acid substitution in the HIV-1 reverse transcriptase at codon 184 changing the methionine to either valine or isoleucine (M184V/I).
Zidovudine: HIV-1 isolates with reduced susceptibility to zidovudine have been selected in cell culture and were also recovered from subjects treated with zidovudine. Genotypic analyses of the isolates selected in cell culture and recovered from zidovudine-treated subjects showed thymidine analogue mutation (TAM) substitutions in HIV-1 RT (M41L, D67N, K70R, L210W, T215Y or F, and K219E/R/H/Q/N) that confer zidovudine resistance. In general, higher levels of resistance were associated with greater number of substitutions.
In some subjects harboring zidovudine-resistant virus at baseline, phenotypic sensitivity to zidovudine was restored by 12 weeks of treatment with lamivudine and zidovudine.
Cross-resistance has been observed among NRTIs. Cross-resistance between lamivudine and zidovudine has not been reported. In some subjects treated with lamivudine alone or in combination with zidovudine, isolates have emerged with a substitution at codon 184, which confers resistance to lamivudine.
TAM substitutions are selected by zidovudine and confer cross-resistance to abacavir, didanosine, stavudine, and tenofovir.


13.1 Carcinogenesis, Mutagenesis, Impairment of Fertility


Lamivudine: Long-term carcinogenicity studies with lamivudine in mice and rats showed no evidence of carcinogenic potential at exposures up to 10 times (mice) and 58 times (rats) the human exposures at the recommended dose of 300 mg.

Zidovudine: Zidovudine was administered orally at 3 dosage levels to separate groups of mice and rats (60 females and 60 males in each group). Initial single daily doses were 30, 60, and 120 mg per kg per day in mice and 80, 220, and 600 mg per kg per day in rats. The doses in mice were reduced to 20, 30, and 40 mg per kg per day after Day 90 because of treatment-related anemia, whereas in rats only the high dose was reduced to 450 mg per kg per day on Day 91 and then to 300 mg per kg per day on Day 279.
In mice, 7 late-appearing (after 19 months) vaginal neoplasms (5 non-metastasizing squamous cell carcinomas, 1 squamous cell papilloma, and 1 squamous polyp) occurred in animals given the highest dose. One late-appearing squamous cell papilloma occurred in the vagina of a middle-dose animal. No vaginal tumors were found at the lowest dose.
In rats, 2 late-appearing (after 20 months), non-metastasizing vaginal squamous cell carcinomas occurred in animals given the highest dose. No vaginal tumors occurred at the low or middle dose in rats. No other drug-related tumors were observed in either sex of either species.
At doses that produced tumors in mice and rats, the estimated drug exposure (as measured by AUC) was approximately 3 times (mouse) and 24 times (rat) the estimated human exposure at the recommended therapeutic dose of 100 mg every 4 hours.
It is not known how predictive the results of rodent carcinogenicity studies may be for humans.


Lamivudine: Lamivudine was mutagenic in an L5178Y mouse lymphoma assay and clastogenic in a cytogenetic assay using cultured human lymphocytes. Lamivudine was not mutagenic in a microbial mutagenicity assay, in an in vitro cell transformation assay, in a rat micronucleus test, in a rat bone marrow cytogenetic assay, and in an assay for unscheduled DNA synthesis in rat liver.
Zidovudine: Zidovudine was mutagenic in an L5178Y mouse lymphoma assay, positive in an in vitro cell transformation assay, clastogenic in a cytogenetic assay using cultured human lymphocytes, and positive in mouse and rat micronucleus tests after repeated doses. It was negative in a cytogenetic study in rats given a single dose.

Impairment of Fertility

Lamivudine: Lamivudine did not affect male or female fertility in rats at doses up to 4,000 mg per kg per day, associated with concentrations approximately 42 times (male) or 63 times (female) higher than the concentrations (Cmax ) in humans at the dose of 300 mg.
Zidovudine: Zidovudine, administered to male and female rats at doses up to 450 mg per kg per day, which is 7 times the recommended adult dose (300 mg twice daily) based on body surface area, had no effect on fertility based on conception rates.


One lamivudine and zidovudine tablet given twice daily is an alternative regimen to EPIVIR tablets 150 mg twice daily plus RETROVIR 600 mg per day in divided doses.

14.1 Adults

The NUCB3007 (CAESAR) trial was conducted using EPIVIR 150 mg tablets (150 mg twice daily) and RETROVIR 100 mg capsules (2 x 100 mg 3 times daily). CAESAR was a multi-center, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial comparing continued current therapy (zidovudine alone [62% of subjects] or zidovudine with didanosine or zalcitabine [38% of subjects]) to the addition of EPIVIR or EPIVIR plus an investigational non-nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitor, randomized 1:2:1. A total of 1,816 HIV-1-infected adults with 25 to 250 (median 122) CD4 cells per mm3 at baseline were enrolled: median age was 36 years, 87% were male, 84% were nucleoside-experienced, and 16% were therapy-naive. The median duration on trial was 12 months. Results are summarized in Table 5.

Table 5. Number of Subjects (%) with at Least 1 HIV-1 Disease-Progression Event or Death
Endpoint Current Therapy (n = 460) EPIVIR plus Current Therapy (n = 896) EPIVIR plus a NNRTIa plus Current Therapy (n = 460)
a An investigational non-nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitor not approved in the United States.
HIV-1 progression or death 90 (19.6%) 86 (9.6%) 41 (8.9%)
Death 27 (5.9%) 23 (2.6%) 14 (3.0%)

14.2 Prevention of Maternal-Fetal HIV-1 Transmission

The utility of zidovudine alone for the prevention of maternal-fetal HIV-1 transmission was demonstrated in a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial conducted in HIV-1-infected pregnant women with CD4+ cell counts of 200 to 1,818 cells per mm3 (median in the treated group: 560 cells per mm3) who had little or no previous exposure to zidovudine. Oral zidovudine was initiated between 14 and 34 weeks of gestation (median 11 weeks of therapy) followed by IV administration of zidovudine during labor and delivery. Following birth, neonates received oral zidovudine syrup for 6 weeks. The trial showed a statistically significant difference in the incidence of HIV-1 infection in the neonates (based on viral culture from peripheral blood) between the group receiving zidovudine and the group receiving placebo. Of 363 neonates evaluated in the trial, the estimated risk of HIV-1 infection was 7.8% in the group receiving zidovudine and 24.9% in the placebo group, a relative reduction in transmission risk of 68.7%. Zidovudine was well tolerated by mothers and infants. There was no difference in pregnancy-related adverse events between the treatment groups.


Lamivudine and Zidovudine Tablets USP, containing 150 mg lamivudine and 300 mg zidovudine, are white to off-white, modified capsule shaped, biconvex, film-coated tablets with deep breakline in between ‘C’ and ‘60’ on one side and deep breakline on the other side. They are available as follows:

Bottles of 60 NDC 65862-036-60

Cartons of 60 (6 x 10) Unit-dose Tablets NDC 65862-036-10

Store at 20° to 25°C (68° to 77°F); excursions permitted to 15° to 30°C (59° to 86°F) [see USP Controlled Room Temperature]. provides trustworthy package insert and label information about marketed prescription drugs as submitted by manufacturers to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Package information is not reviewed or updated separately by Every individual prescription drug label and package insert entry contains a unique identifier which can be used to secure further details directly from the U.S. National Institutes of Health and/or the FDA.

As a leading independent provider of trustworthy medication information, we source our database directly from the FDA's central repository of drug labels and package inserts under the Structured Product Labeling standard. provides the full prescription-only subset of the FDA's repository. Medication information provided here is not intended as a substitute for direct consultation with a qualified health professional.

Terms of Use | Copyright © 2022. All Rights Reserved.