GENERIC NAME: didanosine
BRAND NAME: Videx, Videx EC
DRUG CLASS AND MECHANISM: Didanosine is an oral medication that is used for the treatment of infections with the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). It is in a class of drugs called reverse transcriptase inhibitors which also includes zalcitabine (Hivid), zidovudine (Retrovir), stavudine (Zerit), and lamivudine (Epivir). During infection with HIV, the HIV virus multiplies within the body's cells. The newly-formed viruses then are released from the cells and spread throughout the body where they infect other cells. In this manner, the infection spreads to new, uninfected cells that the body is continually producing, and HIV infection is perpetuated. When producing new viruses, the HIV virus must manufacture new DNA for each virus. Reverse transcriptase is the enzyme that the virus uses to form this new DNA. Specifically, didanosine is converted within the body to its active form (dideoxyadenosine triphosphate). This active form is similar to a chemical, deoxyadenosine triphosphate, that is required by the HIV virus to make new DNA. The reverse transcriptase uses dideoxyadenosine triphosphate instead of deoxyadenosine triphosphate for making DNA, and the dideoxyadenosine triphosphate that interferes with the reverse transcriptase. Didanosine does not kill existing HIV virus and it is not a cure for HIV. The FDA approved didanosine in October 1991.
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