Medically Reviewed on 5/20/2022

Generic Name: zalcitabine (discontinued)

Brand Name: Hivid (discontinued)

Drug Class: reverse transcriptase inhibitors

What is zalcitabine, and what is it used for?

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:

Other side effects are:

What is the dosage for zalcitabine?

  • The recommended dose for adults is 0.75 mg every 8 hours.


What is HIV? See Answer

Pregnancy and breastfeeding

  • Zalcitabine's safety has not been established during pregnancy.
  • 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?

Do I need a prescription for zalcitabine?
  • Yes
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).


Zalcitabine is a medication used to treat HIV infection. Hivid is no longer available in the U.S. and there is no generic version. The most severe side effects of zalcitabine include inflammation of the pancreas (pancreatitis), liver failure, metabolic disturbance (lactic acidosis), and peripheral neuropathy (damage to sensory nerves of the extremities). Consult your doctor if pregnant or breastfeeding.

Treatment & Diagnosis

Medications & Supplements

Prevention & Wellness

Health Solutions From Our Sponsors

FDA Logo

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.

See more info: zalcitabine on RxList
Medically Reviewed on 5/20/2022
FDA Prescribing Information