- HIV AIDS Myths and Facts Slideshow Pictures
- Take the HIV/AIDS Quiz
- AIDS Retrospective Slideshow Pictures
- What is zalcitabine, and how does it work (mechanism of action)?
- What brand names are available for zalcitabine?
- Is zalcitabine available as a generic drug?
- Do I need a prescription for zalcitabine?
- What are the side effects of zalcitabine?
- What is the dosage for zalcitabine?
- Is zalcitabine safe to take if I'm pregnant or breastfeeding?
- What else should I know about zalcitabine?
What is zalcitabine, and how does it work (mechanism of action)?
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.
What are the side effects of zalcitabine?
The most severe side effects are inflammation of the pancreas (pancreatitis), liver failure, metabolic disturbance (lactic acidosis) and peripheral neuropathy (damage to sensory nerves of the extremities). Symptoms of peripheral neuropathy are tingling, numbness and pain in the feet or hands. Other side effects are headache, fever, abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, rash, mouth ulcers, painful swallowing, and difficulty sleeping.
Quick GuideHIV AIDS Facts: Symptoms and Treatments
Is zalcitabine safe to take if I'm pregnant or breastfeeding?
It is not known whether zalcitabine 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 I know about zalcitabine?
What preparations of zalcitabine are available?
Tablets: 0.375, 0.75 mg
How should I keep zalcitabine stored?
Tablets should be stored at room temperature, 15 C to 30 C (59 F to 86 F).
Medically reviewed by John Cunha, DO
Reference: FDA Prescribing Information
Zalcitabine (Hivid - discontinued) is a medication used to treat HIV infection. Hivid is no longer available in the U.S. and there is no generic version. Side effects, drug interactions, dosage, and pregnancy safety information should be reviewed prior to taking this medication.
Multimedia: Slideshows, Images & Quizzes
HIV & AIDS Quiz: HIV Testing & Symptoms
Now, more than ever, you should know about HIV/AIDS, especially its causes, symptoms treatments, and complications. Take the...
Picture of HIV/AIDS
Acronym for the Human Immunodeficiency Virus, the cause of AIDS (acquired immunodeficiency syndrome). See a picture of HIV/AIDS...
Related Disease Conditions
Treatment & Diagnosis
- HIV-AIDS FAQs
- How To Reduce Your Medication Costs
- Pharmacy Visit, How To Get The Most Out of Your Visit
- Indications for Drugs: Approved vs. Non-approved
- Generic Drugs, Are They as Good as Brand-Names?
- Drugs: Buying Prescription Drugs Online Safely
- Drugs: The Most Common Medication Errors
- Medication Disposal - What to Do with Old or Unusable Medication
- Dangers of Mixing Medications
Medications & Supplements
Prevention & Wellness
Daily Health News
Resources for Staying Well
Subscribe to MedicineNet's General Health Newsletter
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.
Reference: FDA Prescribing Information
Top zalcitabine Related ArticlesComplete List
didanosineDidanosine (Videx, Videx EC) is a drug prescribed for the treatment of the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) in adults and children. Side effects, drug interactions, pregnancy safety, and warnings and precautions should be reviewed prior to taking this medication.
Drug InteractionsDrug interactions occur frequently. Get facts about the types of drug interactions, what substances or other things that may interact with drugs such as OTC drug and prescription drugs, vitamins, food(s) (grapefruit), and laboratory tests. Find out how to protect yourself from potential drug interactions.
Drugs: What You Should Know About Your DrugsImportant information about your drugs should be reviewed prior to taking any prescription drug. Side effects, drug interactions, warnings and precauctions, dosage, what the drug is used for, what to do if you miss a dose, how the drug is to be stored, and generic vs. brand names.
HIV/AIDS QuizNow, more than ever, you should know about HIV/AIDS, especially its causes, symptoms treatments, and complications. Take the HIV/AIDS Quiz now!
HIV/AIDS PictureAcronym for the Human Immunodeficiency Virus, the cause of AIDS (acquired immunodeficiency syndrome). See a picture of HIV/AIDS and learn more about the health topic.
Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV)The human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) causes HIV infection and the acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS). Symptoms and signs of HIV infection include fatigue, enlarged lymph glands, and recurrent vaginal yeast infections. Highly active antiretroviral therapy (ART) is the standard treatment for HIV infection.
Lamivudine (3tc) (Epivir; Epivir HBV) is a drug prescribed for the treatment of HIV infection and hepatitis B infection. The most serious side include
- muscle pain,
- liver failure,
- pancreatitis, and
- liver failure.
Drug interactions, and dosage, and pregnancy and breastfeeding safety information should be reviewed prior to taking this medication.
lamivudine and zidovudine
Combivir (lamivudine and zidovudine) is a drug that is used in combination with other agents to treat HIV infection. Serious side effects include:
- Fatty liver
- Liver enlargement
- Lactic acidosis.
Drug interactions, and dosage, and pregnancy and breastfeeding information should be reviewed prior to taking this medication.
stavudineStavudine (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.
Retrovir (zidovudine, ZDV, formerly called AZT) is a medication (oral and injectable) prescribed for the treatment of infections with HIV (human immunodeficiency virus). Side effects include:
- Weight loss
Drug interactions, dosage, and pregnancy and breastfeeding safety information, and dosing should be reviewed before taking any medication.