RETROVIR TABLETS 300MG

Active substance: ZIDOVUDINE

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Retrovir®
300 mg film-coated tablets
zidovudine

Information for the user
Read all of this leaflet carefully before you start using this medicine.
Keep this leaflet. You may need to read it again.
If you have any further questions, ask your doctor or pharmacist.
This medicine has been prescribed for you personally. Do not pass it on to others. It
may harm them even if their symptoms seem to be the same as yours.
If any of the side effects get serious or if you notice any side effects not listed in
this leaflet, please tell your doctor or pharmacist.

In this leaflet
1 What Retrovir is and what it is used for
2 Before you take Retrovir
3 How to take Retrovir
4 Possible side effects
5 How to store Retrovir
6 Further information

1

What Retrovir is and what it is used for
Retrovir is used to treat HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) infection.
The active ingredient in Retrovir is zidovudine. Retrovir is a type of medicine known
as an anti-retroviral. It belongs to a group of medicines called nucleoside analogue
reverse transcriptase inhibitors (NRTIs).
Retrovir does not get rid of HIV infection; it reduces the amount of virus in your body,
and keeps it at a low level. Retrovir also increases the CD4 cell count in your blood.
CD4 cells are a type of white blood cells that are important in helping your body to
fight infection.
Retrovir is used, in combination with other medicines (‘combination therapy’), to treat
HIV in adults and children. To control your HIV infection, and to stop your illness
getting worse, you must keep taking all your medicines.
If you’re pregnant, your doctor may want you to take Retrovir, to help prevent you
passing HIV on to your unborn baby. After the birth, your baby may be given Retrovir
to help prevent it from getting infected with HIV.

Reason for MHRA Submission: RFI re CSP Update following PSUR workshare
Text Date: 07 Dec 2011
MHRA Submission Date : Dec 2011
MHRA Approval Date :
Issue 3; version 1
HIV infection is spread by sexual contact with someone who’s got the infection, or by
transfer of infected blood (for example, by sharing injection needles).

2

Before you take Retrovir

Don’t take Retrovir:
if you’re allergic (hypersensitive) to zidovudine or any of the other ingredients of
Retrovir (listed in Section 6)
if you have a very low white blood cell count (neutropenia) or a very low red
blood cell count (anaemia).

Retrovir for new-born babies
Retrovir must not be given to some new-born babies with liver problems, including:
some cases of hyperbilirubinaemia (increased amounts in the blood of a substance
called bilirubin which may make the skin appear yellow)
other problems which cause high levels of liver enzymes in the blood.

Take special care with Retrovir
Some people taking Retrovir or combination therapy for HIV are more at risk of
serious side effects. You need to be aware of the extra risks:
if you have ever had liver disease (including hepatitis B or C)
if you’re seriously overweight (especially if you’re a woman)
if you’re diabetic and using insulin.
 Talk to your doctor if any of these applies to you. You may need extra check-ups,
including blood tests, while you’re taking your medication. See Section 4 for more
information.

Look out for important symptoms
Some people taking medicines for HIV infection develop other conditions, which can
be serious. You need to know about important signs and symptoms to look out for
while you’re taking Retrovir.
Please read the information in Section 4 of this leaflet. If you have any questions
about this information or the advice given:
 Talk to your doctor.

Other medicines and Retrovir
Tell your doctor or pharmacist if you’re taking any other medicines, or if you’ve
taken any recently, including herbal medicines or other medicines you bought without
a prescription. Remember to tell your doctor or pharmacist if you begin taking a new
medicine while you’re taking Retrovir.

Don’t take these medicines with Retrovir:
stavudine, used to treat HIV infection

Reason for MHRA Submission: RFI re CSP Update following PSUR workshare
Text Date: 07 Dec 2011
MHRA Submission Date : Dec 2011
MHRA Approval Date :
Issue 3; version 1
ribavirin or injections of ganciclovir to treat viral infection
rifampicin, which is an antibiotic.

Some medicines can make it more likely that you’ll have side effects, or make
side effects worse
These include:
sodium valproate, used to treat epilepsy
aciclovir, ganciclovir or interferon, used to treat virus infections
pyrimethamine, used to treat malaria and other parasitic infections
dapsone, used to prevent pneumonia and treat skin infections
fluconazole or flucytosine, used to treat fungal infections such as candida
pentamidine or atovaquone, used to treat parasitic infections such as PCP
amphotericin or co-trimoxazole, used to treat fungal and bacterial infections
probenecid, used to treat gout and similar conditions, and given with some
antibiotics to make them more effective
methadone, used as a heroin substitute
vincristine, vinblastine or doxorubicin, used to treat cancer.
 Tell your doctor if you’re taking any of these.

Some medicines interact with Retrovir
These include:
clarithromycin, which is an antibiotic
phenytoin, used for treating epilepsy.
 Tell your doctor if you’re taking clarithromycin or phenytoin. Your doctor may
need to monitor you while you’re taking Retrovir.

Pregnancy
If you are pregnant, if you become pregnant, or if you’re planning to become pregnant:
 Talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits of taking Retrovir.
If pregnant women who are HIV-positive take Retrovir, they are less likely to pass the
HIV infection on to their unborn babies.
Retrovir and similar medicines may cause side effects in unborn babies; if it does, these
effects won’t show up until after the baby has been born. Even so, the benefit of
protecting your baby from getting HIV is greater than the risk of your baby getting side
effects.
If you’ve taken Retrovir while you were pregnant, your baby may be given extra
check-ups (which may include blood tests), to make sure it’s developing normally.

Breast feeding
Women who are HIV-positive must not breast feed, because HIV infection can be
passed on to the baby in breast milk.

Reason for MHRA Submission: RFI re CSP Update following PSUR workshare
Text Date: 07 Dec 2011
MHRA Submission Date : Dec 2011
MHRA Approval Date :
Issue 3; version 1
If you’re breast feeding, or thinking about breast feeding:
 Talk to your doctor immediately.

Driving and using machines
Retrovir can make you dizzy and have other side effects that make you less alert.
 Don’t drive or operate machinery unless you’re feeling well.

You will need regular blood tests
For as long as you’re taking Retrovir, your doctor will arrange regular blood tests to
check for side effects. There’s more information about these side effects in Section 4 of
this leaflet.

Stay in regular contact with your doctor
Retrovir helps to control your condition, but it is not a cure for HIV infection. You
need to keep taking it every day to stop your illness getting worse. You may still
develop other infections and illnesses linked to HIV infection.
 Keep in touch with your doctor, and don’t stop taking Retrovir without your
doctor’s advice.

Protect other people
Retrovir will not stop you passing HIV infection on to other people, by having sex
or by blood transfer. To protect other people from becoming infected with HIV:
Use a condom when you have oral or penetrative sex.
Don’t risk blood transfer — for example, don’t share needles.

3

How to take Retrovir
Always take Retrovir exactly as your doctor has told you to. Check with your
doctor or pharmacist if you’re not sure.
Swallow the tablets whole, with some water.

How much Retrovir will you need to take?
Adults and adolescents weighing at least 30 kg:
The usual dose of Retrovir is 300 mg twice a day. Take each tablet 12 hours apart.
Children:
Your child can take Retrovir in liquid form or as 100 mg capsules.
Pregnancy, childbirth and newborn babies:
You should not normally take Retrovir during the first 14 weeks of your pregnancy.
After week 14, the usual dose is 500 mg each day until you start to go into labour.
During the labour and birth, your doctor may give you injections of Retrovir, until your
baby’s umbilical cord has been clamped. Your new-born baby may also be given
Retrovir to help prevent it from getting infected with HIV.

Reason for MHRA Submission: RFI re CSP Update following PSUR workshare
Text Date: 07 Dec 2011
MHRA Submission Date : Dec 2011
MHRA Approval Date :
Issue 3; version 1
People with kidney or liver problems:
If you have severe kidney or liver problems, you may be given a lower dose of
Retrovir, depending on how well your kidneys or liver are working. Follow your
doctor’s advice.

If you take too much Retrovir
If you accidentally take too much Retrovir, it is unlikely to cause you serious problems.
The most common effects of taking too much Retrovir are tiredness, headaches and
being sick (vomiting). If you feel unwell:
 Ask your doctor or pharmacist for advice.

If you forget to take Retrovir
If you forget to take a dose, don’t worry. You can take your next dose as soon as you
remember but not within two hours of your next dose. If you remember within two
hours of your next dose, just skip the dose you missed and take your next dose at the
usual time. Then continue your treatment as before.
Don’t take a double dose to make up for a missed dose.

Don’t stop taking Retrovir without advice
Take Retrovir for as long as your doctor recommends. Don’t stop unless your
doctor advises you to.

4

Possible side effects
Like all medicines, Retrovir can cause side effects, but not everyone gets them. Some
side effects may show up in your blood tests, and may not appear until 4 to 6 weeks
after you start taking Retrovir. If you get any of these effects, and if they are severe,
your doctor may advise you to stop taking Retrovir.
As well as the effects listed below, other conditions can develop during combination
therapy for HIV.
 It is important to read the information in ‘Other possible side effects of combination
therapy for HIV’.

Very common side effects
These may affect more than 1 in 10 people taking Retrovir:
headaches
feeling sick (nausea).

Common side effects
These may affect up to 1 in 10 people taking Retrovir:
being sick (vomiting)
diarrhoea
stomach pains

Reason for MHRA Submission: RFI re CSP Update following PSUR workshare
Text Date: 07 Dec 2011
MHRA Submission Date : Dec 2011
MHRA Approval Date :
Issue 3; version 1
feeling dizzy
aching muscles.
Common side effects that may show up in your blood tests are:
a low red blood cell count (anaemia) or low white blood cell count (neutropenia or
leucopenia)
an increase in the level of liver enzymes
an increased amount in the blood of bilirubin (a substance produced in the liver)
which may make your skin appear yellow.

Uncommon side effects
These may affect up to 1 in 100 people taking Retrovir:
skin rash (red, raised or itchy skin)
feeling breathless
fever (high temperature)
general aches and pains
wind (flatulence)
weakness.
Uncommon side effects that may show up in your blood tests are:
a decrease in the number of cells involved in blood clotting (thrombocytopenia), or
in all kinds of blood cells (pancytopenia).

Rare side effects
These may affect up to 1 in 1000 people taking Retrovir:
liver disorders, such as jaundice, enlarged liver or fatty liver
inflammation of the pancreas
chest pain; disease of the heart muscle
fits (convulsions)
feeling depressed or anxious; not being able to sleep (insomnia); not being able to
concentrate; feeling drowsy
indigestion; loss of appetite; taste disturbance
changes in the colour of your nails, your skin, or the skin inside your mouth
a flu-like feeling — chills, sweating and cough
tingly feelings in the skin (pins and needles)
passing urine more often
enlarged breasts in men.
A rare side effect that may show up in your blood tests is:
a decrease in the number of a type of red blood cell (pure red cell aplasia).

Reason for MHRA Submission: RFI re CSP Update following PSUR workshare
Text Date: 07 Dec 2011
MHRA Submission Date : Dec 2011
MHRA Approval Date :
Issue 3; version 1

Very rare side effects
A very rare side effect that may affect up to 1 in 10,000 people taking Retrovir, and
may show up in blood tests is:
a failure of the bone marrow to produce new blood cells (aplastic anaemia).

If you get side effects
 Tell your doctor or pharmacist if any of the side effects gets severe or
troublesome, or if you notice any side effects not listed in this leaflet.

Other possible side effects of combination therapy for
HIV
Some other conditions may develop during HIV treatment.

Old infections may flare up
People with advanced HIV infection (AIDS) have weak immune systems, and are more
likely to develop serious infections (opportunistic infections). When these people start
treatment, they may find that old, hidden infections flare up, causing signs and
symptoms of inflammation. These symptoms are probably caused by the body’s
immune system becoming stronger, so that the body starts to fight these infections.
If you get any symptoms of infection while you’re taking Retrovir:
 Tell your doctor immediately. Don’t take other medicines for the infection without
your doctor’s advice.

Your body shape may change
People taking combination therapy for HIV may find that their body shape changes,
because of changes in fat distribution:
Fat may be lost from the legs, arms or face.
Extra fat may build up around the tummy (abdomen), or on the breasts or internal
organs.
Fatty lumps (sometimes called buffalo hump) may appear on the back of the neck.
It is not yet known what causes these changes, or whether they have any long-term
effects on your health. If you notice changes in your body shape:
 Tell your doctor.

Lactic acidosis is a rare but serious side effect
Some people taking Retrovir, or other medicines like it (NRTIs), develop a condition
called lactic acidosis, together with an enlarged liver. Lactic acidosis is caused by a
build-up of lactic acid in the body. It is rare; if it happens, it usually develops after a
few months of treatment. It can be life-threatening, causing failure of internal organs.
Lactic acidosis is more likely to develop in people who have liver disease, or in obese
(very overweight) people, especially women.

Reason for MHRA Submission: RFI re CSP Update following PSUR workshare
Text Date: 07 Dec 2011
MHRA Submission Date : Dec 2011
MHRA Approval Date :
Issue 3; version 1

Signs of lactic acidosis include:
deep, rapid, difficult breathing
drowsiness
numbness or weakness in the limbs
feeling sick (nausea), being sick (vomiting)
stomach pain.
During your treatment, your doctor will monitor you for signs of lactic acidosis. If you
have any of the symptoms listed above, or any other symptoms that worry you:
 See your doctor as soon as possible.

You may have problems with your bones
Some people taking combination therapy for HIV develop a condition called
osteonecrosis. With this condition, parts of the bone tissue die because of reduced
blood supply to the bone.
People may be more likely to get this condition:
if they have been taking combination therapy for a long time
if they are also taking anti-inflammatory medicines called corticosteroids
if they drink alcohol
if their immune systems are very weak
if they are overweight.

Signs of osteonecrosis include:
stiffness in the joints
aches and pains (especially in the hip, knee or shoulder)
difficulty moving.
If you notice any of these symptoms:
 Tell your doctor.

Other effects may show up in tests
Combination therapy for HIV can also cause:
increased levels of lactic acid in the blood, which on rare occasions can lead to
lactic acidosis
increased levels of sugar, fatty acids (triglycerides) and cholesterol in the blood
resistance to insulin (so if you’re diabetic, you may have to change your insulin
dose to control your blood sugar).
These effects may show up in the blood tests you’ll have while you’re taking Retrovir.

5

How to store Retrovir
Keep Retrovir out of the sight and reach of children.
Don’t take Retrovir after the expiry date shown on the carton.

Reason for MHRA Submission: RFI re CSP Update following PSUR workshare
Text Date: 07 Dec 2011
MHRA Submission Date : Dec 2011
MHRA Approval Date :
Issue 3; version 1
Don’t store Retrovir above 30 °C (86 °F).
Store it in its original package.
If you have any unwanted Retrovir tablets, don’t dispose of them in your waste water
or your household rubbish. Take them back to your pharmacist, who will dispose of
them in a way that won’t harm the environment.

6

Further information

What Retrovir contains
The active substance is zidovudine.
The other ingredients are: microcrystalline cellulose, sodium starch glycollate,
povidone K30, magnesium stearate, OPADRY (OY-7300): hypromellose, titanium
dioxide (E171), macrogol 400 and macrogol 8000.

What Retrovir looks like and contents of the pack
Retrovir 300 mg film-coated tablets are marked ‘WELLCOME X4F’. They are white
and round with a white to beige core, and supplied in bottles of 28 tablets or foil blister
packs of 300, 28 or 60 tablets.

Marketing Authorisation Holder and Manufacturer
Marketing authorisation holder
ViiV Healthcare UK Ltd, 980 Great West Road, Brentford, Middlesex TW8 9GS
Manufacturer
Glaxo Wellcome S.A., Avenida de Extremadura 3, 09400 Aranda de Duero, Burgos, Spain
Other formats:
To listen to or request a copy of this leaflet in Braille, large print or audio please call, free of
charge:
0800 198 5000 (UK Only)
Please be ready to give the following information:
Product name
Retrovir 300 mg Tablets
Reference number
35728/0003
This is a service provided by the Royal National Institute of Blind People.
Leaflet date: December 2011
Retrovir is a registered trademark of the ViiV Healthcare group of companies.
© 2011 ViiV Healthcaregroup of companies. All rights reserved.
ViiV Healthcare logo

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Source: Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency

Disclaimer: Every effort has been made to ensure that the information provided here is accurate, up-to-date and complete, but no guarantee is made to that effect. Drug information contained herein may be time sensitive. This information has been compiled for use by healthcare practitioners and consumers in the United States. The absence of a warning for a given drug or combination thereof in no way should be construed to indicate that the drug or combination is safe, effective or appropriate for any given patient. If you have questions about the substances you are taking, check with your doctor, nurse or pharmacist.

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