Generic Name: stavudine (STA vue deen)
Brand Names: Zerit
What is Zerit?
Zerit (stavudine) is an antiviral medication that prevents human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) cells from multiplying in your body.
Zerit is used to treat HIV, which causes the acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS). It is not a cure for HIV or AIDS.
Zerit may also be used for purposes not listed in this medication guide.
Zerit should not be taken together with any HIV combination that includes zidovudine (Combivir, Retrovir, or Trizivir). Some people develop lactic acidosis while taking Zerit. Early symptoms may get worse over time and this condition can be fatal. Get emergency medical help if you have even mild symptoms such as: muscle pain or weakness, numb or cold feeling in your arms and legs, trouble breathing, stomach pain, nausea with vomiting, fast or uneven heart rate, dizziness, or feeling very weak or tired.
Zerit can also cause severe or life-threatening effects on your liver or pancreas. Call your doctor at once if you have any of these symptoms while taking Zerit: severe pain in your upper stomach spreading to your back, nausea and vomiting, fast heart rate, itching, loss of appetite, dark urine, clay-colored stools, or jaundice (yellowing of the skin or eyes).
Before taking Zerit, tell your doctor if you have kidney disease, liver disease, a history of pancreatitis, or if you have used a medicine similar to Zerit in the past, such as abacavir (Ziagen), didanosine (Videx), emtricitabine (Atripla, Complera, Emtriva, Truvada), lamivudine (Epivir, Combivir, Epzicom, Trizivir), tenofovir (Viread), zalcitabine (Hivid), or zidovudine (Retrovir).
Before taking this medicine
You should not take Zerit if you are allergic to stavudine. Zerit should not be taken together with any HIV combination that includes zidovudine (Combivir, Retrovir, or Trizivir).
Some people have developed a life-threatening condition called lactic acidosis while taking Zerit. You may be more likely to develop lactic acidosis if you are overweight or have liver disease, if you are a woman, or if you have taken certain HIV or AIDS medications for a long time. Talk with your doctor about your individual risk. Zerit can also cause severe or life-threatening effects on your liver or pancreas. Tell your doctor if you have liver disease or a history of pancreatitis.
To make sure you can safely take Zerit, tell your doctor if you have any of these other conditions:
- kidney disease;
diabetes (Zerit liquid contains 250 milligrams of sucrose per teaspoon); or
if you have used a medicine similar to Zerit in the past, such as abacavir (Ziagen), didanosine (Videx), emtricitabine (Atripla, Complera, Emtriva, Truvada), lamivudine (Epivir, Combivir, Epzicom, Trizivir), tenofovir (Viread), zalcitabine (Hivid), or zidovudine (Retrovir).
FDA pregnancy category C. It is not known whether Zerit is harmful to an unborn baby. HIV can be passed to the baby if the mother is not properly treated during pregnancy. Zerit may also be more likely to cause lactic acidosis in a pregnant woman. Tell your doctor if you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant during treatment. Take all of your HIV medicines as directed to control your infection while you are pregnant. If you are pregnant, your name may be listed on a pregnancy registry. This is to track the outcome of the pregnancy and to evaluate any effects of Zerit on the baby. You should not breast-feed while you are using Zerit. Women with HIV or AIDS should not breast-feed at all. Even if your baby is born without HIV, you may still pass the virus to the baby in your breast milk.
See also: Pregnancy and breastfeeding warnings (in more detail)
How should I take Zerit?
Take Zerit exactly as it was prescribed for you. Do not take the medication in larger amounts, or take it for longer than recommended by your doctor. Follow the directions on your prescription label.
Do not take Zerit as your only HIV medication. HIV/AIDS is usually treated with a combination of drugs. Use all medications as directed by your doctor. Read the medication guide or patient instructions provided with each medication. Do not change your doses or medication schedule without your doctor's advice. Every person with HIV or AIDS should remain under the care of a doctor.
Zerit can be taken with or without food. Take your doses at regular intervals to keep a steady amount of the drug in your body at all times. Zerit is usually given once every 12 hours.
Tell your doctor if you have any changes in your weight. Zerit doses are based on weight.
Measure liquid Zerit with a special dose-measuring spoon or medicine cup, not with a regular table spoon. If you do not have a dose-measuring device, ask your pharmacist for one.
To be sure this medication is helping your condition, your blood will need to be tested on a regular basis. Your liver function may also need to be tested. Do not miss any visits to your doctor.
Store Zerit capsules at room temperature away from moisture and heat. Keep the bottle tightly closed. Store the liquid medicine in the refrigerator, do not freeze. Throw away any unused liquid after 30 days.
Throw away any unused or expired Zerit in a closed container or sealed bag. You may also ask your pharmacist where to locate a community pharmaceutical take-back disposal program.
What happens if I miss a dose?
Take the missed dose as soon as you remember. If it is almost time for your next dose, skip the missed dose and take the medicine at the next regularly scheduled time. Do not take extra medicine to make up the missed dose.
What happens if I overdose?
Seek emergency medical attention or call the Poison Help line at 1-800-222-1222.
Overdose symptoms may include numbness, burning, pain, or tingly feeling, nausea, stomach pain, low fever, loss of appetite, dark urine, clay-colored stools, or jaundice (yellowing of the skin or eyes).
What should I avoid?
Avoid drinking alcohol. It may increase your risk of pancreas or liver damage while you are taking Zerit. Taking this medication will not prevent you from passing HIV to other people. Do not have unprotected sex or share razors or toothbrushes. Talk with your doctor about safe ways to prevent HIV transmission during sex. Sharing drug or medicine needles is never safe, even for a healthy person.
Zerit side effects
Stop using Zerit and get emergency medical help if you have any of these signs of an allergic reaction: hives; difficulty breathing; swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat. This medication may cause lactic acidosis (a build-up of lactic acid in the body, which can be fatal). Lactic acidosis can start slowly and get worse over time.
Get emergency medical help if you have even mild symptoms of lactic acidosis, such as:
muscle pain or weakness;
numb or cold feeling in your arms and legs;
feeling dizzy, light-headed, tired, or very weak;
stomach pain, nausea with vomiting; or
fast or uneven heart rate.
Stop using Zerit and call your doctor at once if you have a serious side effect such as:
signs of a new infection such as fever, chills, sore throat, flu symptoms, easy bruising or unusual bleeding, loss of appetite, mouth sores;
severe pain in your upper stomach spreading to your back, nausea and vomiting, fast heart rate;
upper stomach pain, itching, loss of appetite, dark urine, clay-colored stools, jaundice (yellowing of the skin or eyes);
increased sweating, tremors in your hands, anxiety, feeling irritable, sleep problems (insomnia);
diarrhea, unexplained weight loss, menstrual changes, impotence, loss of interest in sex;
swelling in your neck or throat (enlarged thyroid);
weakness, numbness, pain, or prickly feeling in your hands or feet;
problems with walking, breathing, speech, swallowing, or eye movement; or
severe lower back pain, loss of bladder or bowel control.
Less serious Zerit side effects may include:
mild skin rash; or
changes in the shape or location of body fat (especially in your arms, legs, face, neck, breasts, and trunk).
This is not a complete list of side effects and others may occur. Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.
See also: Side effects (in more detail)
What other drugs will affect Zerit?
Tell your doctor about all other medicines you use, especially:
doxorubicin (Adriamycin, Rubex);
hydroxyurea (Droxia, Hydrea);
interferon-alfa (Roferon, Intron, Rebetron); or
ribavirin (Copegus, Rebetol, RibaPak, Ribasphere, RibaTab, Virazole).
This list is not complete and other drugs may interact with Zerit. Tell your doctor about all medications you use. This includes prescription, over-the-counter, vitamin, and herbal products. Do not start a new medication without telling your doctor.
More about Zerit (stavudine)
Related treatment guides
Where can I get more information?
- Your pharmacist can provide more information about Zerit.
- Remember, keep this and all other medicines out of the reach of children, never share your medicines with others, and use this medication only for the indication prescribed.
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Copyright 1996-2014 Cerner Multum, Inc. Version: 10.01. Revision Date: 2012-03-09, 10:13:27 AM.