3TC (lamivudine, Epivir)

3TC (lamivudine, Epivir) is an antiviral drug that reduces the amount of HIV in the body. Anti-HIV drugs such as 3TC slow down or prevent damage to the immune system, and reduce the risk of developing AIDS-related illnesses. 3TC is also active against hepatitis B virus.

3TC is one of the nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors (NRTIs). These drugs disrupt an HIV protein or enzyme called reverse transcriptase, which is involved in making new viruses. For more information about how NRTIs work, see Reverse transcriptase inhibitors.

In 1996, 3TC was licensed in Europe as a treatment for HIV when used in combination with other anti-HIV drugs. It was discovered by BioChem Pharma and is manufactured by GlaxoSmithKline under the trade name Epivir. Numerous generic versions of 3TC are available. 

3TC is co-formulated with AZT (zidovudine) in one pill, known by the trade name Combivir from GlaxoSmithKline. Each Combivir pill contains 150mg 3TC and 300mg AZT. Generic versions of this co-formulation are also available.

A pill that combines 300mg AZT, 150mg 3TC, and 300mg abacavir, known as Trizivir, is also available from GlaxoSmithKline. It was approved in the United States in November 2000 and in the European Union in March 2001.

GlaxoSmithKline also produces a fixed-dose combination of 300mg 3TC with 600mg abacavir that is suitable for once-daily dosing. It is marketed as Kivexa in Europe and as Epzicom in the United States.

3TC is also approved as a treatment for hepatitis B virus (HBV). In the European Union it is known by the trade name Zeffix and in the United States as Epivir-HBV.