Generic Name: zidovudine (zye-DOE-vue-deen)
Brand Name: Retrovir
Severe bone marrow problems (eg, low white blood cell levels, anemia) have been reported with zidovudine. The risk may be greater in patients with advanced HIV infection. Tell your doctor right away if you have symptoms of anemia (eg, severe or persistent tiredness or weakness) or an infection (eg, fever, chills, persistent cough or sore throat, decreased or painful urination).
Muscle pain or aches have occurred with long-term use of zidovudine. Tell your doctor if you develop these effects.
A severe and sometimes fatal effect called lactic acidosis has been reported with this type of medicine. Tell your doctor right away if you experience fast breathing; fast or irregular heartbeat; nausea; severe or unusual drowsiness; shortness of breath; sluggishness; vomiting; dizziness or light-headedness; feeling of being unusually cold; or unusual muscle pain or cramps.
Severe and sometimes fatal liver problems have been reported with this type of medicine. Tell your doctor right away if you experience symptoms of liver problems (eg, yellowing of the skin or eyes; dark urine; pale stools; severe or persistent loss of appetite, nausea, or stomach pain).
Zidovudine is used for:
Treating HIV infection when used along with other medicines. It is also used with other medicines to help prevent women from passing the HIV virus to the fetus during pregnancy.
Zidovudine is an antiviral. It works by blocking the reproduction of the HIV virus.
Do NOT use zidovudine if:
- you are allergic to any ingredient in zidovudine
- you are taking doxorubicin, ribavirin, stavudine, or any other medicine that contains zidovudine
Contact your doctor or health care provider right away if any of these apply to you.
Before using zidovudine:
Some medical conditions may interact with zidovudine. Tell your doctor or pharmacist if you have any medical conditions, especially if any of the following apply to you:
- if you are pregnant, planning to become pregnant, or are breast-feeding
- if you are taking any prescription or nonprescription medicine, herbal preparation, or dietary supplement
- if you have allergies to medicines, foods, or other substances
- if you have bone marrow problems (eg, low white blood cell or hemoglobin levels) or lactic acidosis
- if you have a history of alcohol abuse or dependence, kidney problems, pancreatitis, or hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection or other liver problems (eg, cirrhosis)
- if you are on dialysis, you are at risk for liver problems, or you are very overweight
Some MEDICINES MAY INTERACT with zidovudine. Tell your health care provider if you are taking any other medicines, especially any of the following:
- Zalcitabine because severe pancreas problems may occur
- Ganciclovir, interferon alfa, probenecid, valproic acid, or any other medicine that contains zidovudine because they may increase the risk of zidovudine's side effects
- Ribavirin because it may decrease zidovudine's effectiveness or increase the risk of zidovudine's side effects
- Doxorubicin or stavudine because they may decrease zidovudine's effectiveness
This may not be a complete list of all interactions that may occur. Ask your health care provider if zidovudine may interact with other medicines that you take. Check with your health care provider before you start, stop, or change the dose of any medicine.
How to use zidovudine:
Use zidovudine as directed by your doctor. Check the label on the medicine for exact dosing instructions.
- Zidovudine is usually given as an injection at your doctor's office, hospital, or clinic. If you will be using zidovudine at home, a health care provider will teach you how to use it. Be sure you understand how to use zidovudine. Follow the procedures you are taught when you use a dose. Contact your health care provider if you have any questions.
- Do not use zidovudine if it contains particles, is cloudy or discolored, or if the vial is cracked or damaged
- Keep this product, as well as syringes and needles, out of the reach of children and pets. Do not reuse needles, syringes, or other materials. Ask your health care provider how to dispose of these materials after use. Follow all local rules for disposal.
- Use zidovudine on a regular schedule around the clock, unless your doctor tells you otherwise.
- Continue to use zidovudine even if you feel well. Do not miss any doses.
- It is important not to miss doses of zidovudine. If you miss a dose of zidovudine, use it as soon as possible. If it is almost time for your next dose, skip the missed dose and go back to your regular dosing schedule. Do not use 2 doses at once.
Ask your health care provider any questions you may have about how to use zidovudine.
Important safety information:
- Zidovudine may lower the ability of your body to fight infection. Avoid contact with people who have colds or infections. Tell your doctor if you notice signs of infection like fever, sore throat, rash, or chills.
- Do NOT take more than the recommended dose or stop using zidovudine without checking with your doctor.
- Zidovudine is not a cure for HIV infection. Patients may still get illnesses and infections associated with HIV. Remain under the care of your doctor.
- Zidovudine does not stop the spread of HIV to others through blood or sexual contact. Use barrier methods of birth control (eg, condoms) if you have HIV infection. Do not share needles, injection supplies, or items like toothbrushes or razors.
- The risk of certain severe side effects (lactic acidosis, severe liver problems) may be greater in patients who are overweight (obese), women, and patients who have taken certain HIV medicines for a long time. Talk with your doctor if you have questions about your risk for severe side effects from zidovudine.
- Changes in body fat (eg, an increased amount of fat in the upper back, neck, breast, and trunk, and loss of fat from the legs, arms, and face) may occur in some patients taking zidovudine. The cause and long-term effects of these changes are unknown. Discuss any concerns with your doctor.
- Zidovudine may improve immune system function. This may reveal hidden infections in some patients. Tell your doctor right away if you notice symptoms of infection (eg, fever, sore throat, weakness, cough, shortness of breath) after you start zidovudine.
- Lab tests, including liver function, kidney function, and complete blood cell counts, may be performed while you use zidovudine. These tests may be used to monitor your condition or check for side effects. Be sure to keep all doctor and lab appointments.
- PREGNANT WOMEN: Zidovudine may not always prevent you from passing the HIV virus to the fetus. It is not known how zidovudine may affect the baby later in life. Discuss any questions or concerns with your doctor.
- PREGNANCY AND BREAST-FEEDING: If you become pregnant, contact your doctor. You will need to discuss the benefits and risks of using zidovudine while you are pregnant. Zidovudine is found in breast milk. Do not breast-feed while taking zidovudine. Mothers infected with HIV should not breast-feed. There is a risk of passing the HIV infection or zidovudine to the baby.
Possible side effects of zidovudine:
All medicines may cause side effects, but many people have no, or minor, side effects. Check with your doctor if any of these most COMMON side effects persist or become bothersome:
Seek medical attention right away if any of these SEVERE side effects occur:
Constipation; headache; loss of appetite; nausea; unusual tiredness; vomiting; weakness.
Severe allergic reactions (rash; hives; itching; difficulty breathing; tightness in the chest; swelling of the mouth, face, lips, or tongue); muscle pain, aches, cramps, or weakness; red, swollen, blistered, or peeling skin; severe or persistent tiredness or weakness; symptoms of infection (eg, fever, chills, persistent cough or sore throat, decreased or painful urination); symptoms of lactic acidosis (eg, fast breathing; fast or irregular heartbeat; severe or unusual nausea, drowsiness, or vomiting; shortness of breath; sluggishness; dizziness or light-headedness; feeling of being unusually cold); symptoms of liver problems (eg, yellowing of the skin or eyes; dark urine; pale stools; severe or persistent loss of appetite, nausea, or stomach pain); symptoms of pancreatitis (eg, severe stomach or back pain, with or without nausea or vomiting).
This is not a complete list of all side effects that may occur. If you have questions about side effects, contact your health care provider. Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. To report side effects to the appropriate agency, please read the Guide to Reporting Problems to FDA.
If OVERDOSE is suspected:
Contact 1-800-222-1222 (the American Association of Poison Control Centers), your local poison control center, or emergency room immediately.Proper storage of zidovudine:
Zidovudine is usually handled and stored by a health care provider. If you are using zidovudine at home, store zidovudine as directed by your pharmacist or health care provider. Keep zidovudine out of the reach of children and away from pets.
- If you have any questions about zidovudine, please talk with your doctor, pharmacist, or other health care provider.
- Zidovudine is to be used only by the patient for whom it is prescribed. Do not share it with other people.
- If your symptoms do not improve or if they become worse, check with your doctor.
- Check with your pharmacist about how to dispose of unused medicine.
This information should not be used to decide whether or not to take zidovudine or any other medicine. Only your health care provider has the knowledge and training to decide which medicines are right for you. This information does not endorse any medicine as safe, effective, or approved for treating any patient or health condition. This is only a brief summary of general information about zidovudine. It does NOT include all information about the possible uses, directions, warnings, precautions, interactions, adverse effects, or risks that may apply to zidovudine. This information is not specific medical advice and does not replace information you receive from your health care provider. You must talk with your healthcare provider for complete information about the risks and benefits of using zidovudine.
Disclaimer: This information should not be used to decide whether or not to take this medicine or any other medicine. Only your health care provider has the knowledge and training to decide which medicines are right for you. This information does not endorse any medicine as safe, effective, or approved for treating any patient or health condition. This is only a brief summary of general information about this medicine. It does NOT include all information about the possible uses, directions, warnings, precautions, interactions, adverse effects, or risks that may apply to this medicine. This information is not specific medical advice and does not replace information you receive from your health care provider. You must talk with your healthcare provider for complete information about the risks and benefits of using this medicine.