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 Retrovir. 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 Retrovir. 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).
Retrovir 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.
Retrovir is an antiviral. It works by blocking the reproduction of the HIV virus.
Do NOT use Retrovir if:
- you are allergic to any ingredient in Retrovir
- 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 Retrovir:
Some medical conditions may interact with Retrovir. 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 Retrovir. Tell your health care provider if you are taking any other medicines, especially any of the following:
- Ganciclovir, interferon alfa, or any other medicine that contains zidovudine because they may increase the risk of Retrovir's side effects
- Ribavirin because it may decrease Retrovir's effectiveness or increase the risk of Retrovir's side effects
- Doxorubicin or stavudine because they may decrease Retrovir's effectiveness
This may not be a complete list of all interactions that may occur. Ask your health care provider if Retrovir 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 Retrovir:
Use Retrovir as directed by your doctor. Check the label on the medicine for exact dosing instructions.
- Retrovir is given as an injection at your doctor's office, hospital, or clinic. Contact your health care provider if you have any questions.
- It is important not to miss doses of Retrovir. If you miss a dose of Retrovir, call your doctor to find out what to do.
Ask your health care provider any questions you may have about how to use Retrovir.
Important safety information:
- Retrovir 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 Retrovir without checking with your doctor.
- Retrovir is not a cure for HIV infection. Patients may still get illnesses and infections associated with HIV. Remain under the care of your doctor.
- Retrovir 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 Retrovir.
- 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 Retrovir. The cause and long-term effects of these changes are unknown. Discuss any concerns with your doctor.
- Retrovir 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 Retrovir.
- A severe skin reaction (Stevens-Johnson syndrome/toxic epidermal necrolysis) may happen. It can cause severe health problems that may not go away, and sometimes death. Get medical help right away if you have symptoms like red, swollen, blistered, or peeling skin (with or without fever); red or irritated eyes; or sores in your mouth, throat, nose, or eyes.
- Lab tests, including liver function, kidney function, and complete blood cell counts, may be performed while you use Retrovir. 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: Retrovir may not always prevent you from passing the HIV virus to the fetus. It is not known how Retrovir 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 Retrovir while you are pregnant. Retrovir is found in breast milk. Do not breast-feed while taking Retrovir. Mothers infected with HIV should not breast-feed. There is a risk of passing the HIV infection or Retrovir to the baby.
Possible side effects of Retrovir:
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; 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; 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 Retrovir:
Retrovir is handled and stored by a health care provider. You will not store it at home. Keep all medicines out of the reach of children and away from pets.
- If you have any questions about Retrovir, please talk with your doctor, pharmacist, or other health care provider.
- Retrovir 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 Retrovir 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 Retrovir. It does NOT include all information about the possible uses, directions, warnings, precautions, interactions, adverse effects, or risks that may apply to Retrovir. This information is not specific medical advice and does not replace information you receive from your health care provider. You must talk with your health care provider for complete information about the risks and benefits of using Retrovir.
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.
More about Retrovir (zidovudine)
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- Drug class: nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors (NRTIs)
- Retrovir capsules
- Retrovir syrup
- Retrovir injection
- Retrovir (Advanced Reading)
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