CUH Logo

Mobile menu open


Patient information A-Z

Who is the leaflet for?

This leaflet is for patients starting on treatment with lamivudine for hepatitis B infection to provide an overview of treatment and important information.

About lamivudine

What is lamivudine for and how do I take it?

Lamivudine is commonly used to treat long-term hepatitis B virus infection, which can cause inflammation and damage to the liver. Lamivudine reduces the amount of hepatitis B virus in your body to limit damage to your liver. It is a tablet which should be taken by mouth; the usual dose is 100mg once a day. Lamivudine can be taken with or without food. Your doctor or liver nurse specialist may prescribe a different dose if there are problems with your kidney function.

Lamivudine is usually continued long-term. Do not stop taking lamivudine without discussion with your doctor or liver nurse specialist. Your hepatitis B virus infection may get worse if you stop taking lamivudine.

Are there any problems with taking lamivudine?

Broadly, lamivudine is safe and well tolerated, but you should be aware of the following potential issues.

Side effects

The most common side effects from lamivudine include headache, tiredness, difficulties sleeping, nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, abdominal pain, muscle/ joint pains, fever and rashes.

Lactic acidosis (build-up of acid in the blood): a rare but serious side effect that must be treated in hospital. Contact your doctor or liver nurse specialist immediately if you experience severe abdominal pain with nausea and vomiting.

If you experience any side effects, please contact your doctor, pharmacist or liver nurse specialist. This includes any possible side effects not listed above.

It is common for patients to have changes in their blood tests whilst taking lamivudine. This is not usually a problem and will be monitored by your doctor or liver nurse specialist. Should you become very unwell soon after starting the medication, please contact your doctor or liver nurse specialist.

Missed doses

To prevent viral mutation and liver damage, it is very important that you do not miss doses of lamivudine. If you do miss a dose, but remember within twelve hours since you should have taken your dose then take your usual dose. If it has been more than twelve hours then skip the missed dose, but take your next dose when it is due. Do not take a double dose to make up for a missed dose.


If you are pregnant, think you may be pregnant or you wish to plan a pregnancy on lamivudine, this should be discussed carefully with your doctor first.

If you or your partner are of childbearing age, it is important that you take precautions to prevent pregnancy with effective contraception whilst you are taking the treatment and for at least six weeks after you stop treatment.


Should you wish to breastfeed whilst taking lamivudine, this should be discussed carefully with your doctor first.

Additional information

Only take medicines prescribed for you by your doctor and check with your doctor, liver nurse specialist or pharmacist before taking any new medicines. This includes medicines initiated by your GP or medicines/ remedies bought over the counter.

The following medicines should not be taken with lamivudine. If you are taking or due to start taking these medicines, contact your doctor or liver nurse specialist.

  • medicines (usually liquids) containing sorbitol, xylitol, mannitol, lactitol or maltitol if taken regularly
  • emtricitabine (used to treat HIV infection)
  • cladribine (used to treat hairy cell leukaemia)
  • high doses of co-trimoxazole (an antibiotic)

Can I spread hepatitis B whilst I am on treatment?

Treatment with lamivudine for hepatitis B does not stop you from passing the infection on, for example through sexual contact or bodily fluids including blood, so make sure that you continue to take appropriate preventative measures. These can be discussed in more detail with your doctor or liver nurse specialist.

Further information

Further information about your tablet can be found in the patient information leaflet found in the tablet/ capsule box or on the container.

Further information on hepatitis B can be found on the following websites:

We are smoke-free

Smoking is not allowed anywhere on the hospital campus. For advice and support in quitting, contact your GP or the free NHS stop smoking helpline on 0800 169 0 169.

Other formats

Help accessing this information in other formats is available. To find out more about the services we provide, please visit our patient information help page (see link below) or telephone 01223 256998.

Contact us

Cambridge University Hospitals
NHS Foundation Trust
Hills Road, Cambridge

Telephone +44 (0)1223 245151