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What is stavudine? How does it work (mechanism of action)?
Stavudine 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), didanosine (Videx), and lamivudine (Epivir). During infection with HIV, the HIV virus multiplies within the body's cells. The newly formed viruses 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, perpetuating HIV infection. 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, stavudine is converted within the body to its active form (stavudine triphosphate). This active form is similar to thymidine triphosphate, a chemical that is used by the HIV virus to make new DNA. The reverse transcriptase uses stavudine triphosphate instead of thymidine triphosphate for making DNA, and the stavudine triphosphate interferes with the action of the reverse transcriptase. Stavudine does not kill existing HIV virus, and it is not a cure for HIV.
- Stavudine was approved by the FDA in June 1994.
- The brand name for stavudine is Zerit.
- Stavudine is available in generic form. You need a prescription for stavudine.
What are the side effects of stavudine?
The most severe side effects are:
- a decrease in blood cells,
- muscle pain (myopathy),
- pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas),
- liver failure, and
- metabolic disturbance (lactic acidosis).
Stavudine damages nerves and can cause a severe peripheral neuropathy, a condition in which sensation in the legs and/or arms is altered or lost. Symptoms of peripheral neuropathy are tingling, numbness and pain in the feet or hands.
Other side effects include
What is the dosage for stavudine?
- The recommended dose for adults is 40 mg every 12 hours for those weighing 60 kg or more and 30 mg every 12 hours if less than 60 kg.
- Newborns up to 13 days of age should receive 0.5 mg/kg every 12 hours and children older than 14 days and weighing less than 30 kg should receive 1 mg/kg.
- Children weighing 30 kg or more should be treated as adults.
- Stavudine may be administered without regard to meals.
Is stavudine safe to take if you are pregnant or breastfeeding?
- It is not known whether stavudine is excreted in breast milk.
- HIV infected mothers should not breastfeed because of the potential risk of transmitting HIV to an infant that is not infected.
What else should you know about stavudine?
What preparations of stavudine are available?
Capsules: 15, 20, 30 and 40 mg. Powder for oral solution, 1 mg/ml.
How should I keep stavudine stored?
Capsules should be stored at room temperature, 15 C to 30 C (59 F to 86 F). The dry powder for oral solution should be kept at room temperature and away from moisture. Solutions should be refrigerated.
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Stavudine (Zerit) is a medication prescribed for the treatment of HIV infection. Zerit is prescribed to be used in combination with other anti-HIV infection drugs. Side effects, drug interactions, dosage, and pregnancy safety should be reviewed prior to taking this medication.
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Related Disease Conditions
AIDS (Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome)
AIDS is the advanced stage of HIV infection. Symptoms and signs of AIDS include pneumonia due to Pneumocystis jiroveci, tuberculosis, toxoplasmosis, seizures, weakness, meningitis, yeast infection of the esophagus, and Kaposi's sarcoma. Anti-retroviral therapy (HAART) is used in the treatment of AIDS.
Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV)
HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) infection left untreated causes AIDS (acquired immunodeficiency syndrome). Still incurable, AIDS describes immune system collapse that opens the way for opportunistic infections and cancers to kill the patient. Early symptoms and signs of HIV infection include flu-like symptoms and fungal infections, but some people may not show any symptoms for years. Highly active antiretroviral therapy (ART) is the standard treatment for HIV infection. These combination drug regimens have made HIV much less deadly, but a cure or vaccine for the pandemic remains out of reach. HIV is usually transmitted through sexual contact or sharing IV drug needles, but can also infect someone through contact with infected blood. Sexual abstinence, safe sex practices, quitting IV drugs (or at least using clean needles), and proper safety equipment by clinicians and first responders can drastically reduce transmission rates for HIV/AIDS.
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- abacavir, Ziagen
- Retrovir (zidovudine, ZDV, formerly called AZT)
- lamivudine (3tc) (Epivir; Epivir HBV)
- didanosine (Videx, Videx EC)
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- nevirapine (Viramune, Viramune XR)
- delavirdine (Rescriptor)
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Report Problems to the Food and Drug Administration
You are encouraged to report negative side effects of prescription drugs to the FDA. Visit the FDA MedWatch website or call 1-800-FDA-1088.