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.
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.
Multimedia: Slideshows, Images & Quizzes
Related Disease Conditions
Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV)
HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) infection left untreated causes AIDS (acquired immunodeficiency syndrome). The human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) is a type of virus called a retrovirus, which can infect humans when it comes in contact with tissues that line the vagina, anal area, mouth, or eyes, or through a break in the skin. HIV infection is generally a slowly progressive disease in which the virus is present throughout the body at all stages of the disease. Three stages of HIV infection have been described. The initial stage of infection (primary infection), which occurs within weeks of acquiring the virus, often is characterized by the flu- or mono-like illness that generally resolves within weeks. The stage of chronic asymptomatic infection (meaning a long duration of infection without symptoms) lasts an average of eight to 10 years without treatment. The stage of symptomatic infection, in which the body's immune (or defense) system has been suppressed and complications have developed, is called the acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS). The symptoms are caused by the complications of AIDS, which include one or more unusual infections or cancers, severe loss of weight, and intellectual deterioration (called dementia). When HIV grows (that is, by reproducing itself), it acquires the ability to change (mutate) its own structure. These mutations enable the virus to become resistant to previously effective drug therapy. The goals of drug therapy are to prevent damage to the immune system by the HIV virus and to halt or delay the progress of the infection to symptomatic disease. Therapy for HIV includes combinations of drugs that decrease the growth of the virus to such an extent that the treatment prevents or markedly delays the development of viral resistance to the drugs. The best combination of drugs for HIV are those that effectively suppress viral replication in the blood and also are well tolerated and simple to take so that people can take the medications consistently without missing doses.
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.
Treatment & Diagnosis
- Drugs: The Most Common Medication Errors
- Medication Disposal
- Dangers of Mixing Medications
- How To Reduce Your Medication Costs
- Pharmacy Visit, How To Get The Most Out of Your Visit
- Indications for Drugs: Approved vs. Non-approved
- Drugs: Buying Prescription Drugs Online Safely
- Generic Drugs, Are They as Good as Brand-Names?
Medications & Supplements
- Drugs: Questions to Ask Your Doctor or Pharmacist about Your Drugs
- Drug Interactions
- abacavir, Ziagen
- Retrovir (zidovudine, ZDV, formerly called AZT)
- lamivudine (3tc) (Epivir; Epivir HBV)
- What Are NRTIs in Antiretroviral Therapy For HIV Infection?
- efavirenz (Sustiva)
- didanosine (Videx, Videx EC)
- delavirdine (Rescriptor)
- nevirapine (Viramune, Viramune XR)
- Combivir (lamivudine and zidovudine)
- abacavir, lamivudine, zidovudine (Trizivir)
- Side Effects of Zerit (stavudine)
Prevention & Wellness
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.