GENERIC NAME: zalcitabine
BRAND NAME: Hivid (Discontinued)
DRUG CLASS AND MECHANISM: Zalcitabine 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 lamivudine (Epivir), zidovudine (Retrovir), didanosine (Videx), and stavudine (Zerit). 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 continually spreads to new, uninfected cells that the body is continually producing, and HIV infection is perpetuated. When producing new virus, 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, zalcitabine is converted within the body to its active form (dideoxycytidine triphosphate). This active form is similar to a compound (deoxycytidine triphosphate), a chemical that is used by the HIV virus to make new DNA. The reverse transcriptase uses dideoxycytidine triphosphate instead of deoxycytidine triphosphate for making DNA, and the dideoxycytidine triphosphate interferes with the action of the reverse transcriptase. Zalcitabine does not kill existing HIV virus, and it is not a cure for HIV. Zalcitabine was approved by the FDA in June 1992.
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