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stavudine (cont.)

What should I discuss with my healthcare provider before taking stavudine (Zerit)?

You should not take stavudine if you are allergic to it.

Stavudine should not be taken together with any HIV combination that includes zidovudine (Combivir, Retrovir, or Trizivir).

Some people have developed a life-threatening condition called lactic acidosis while taking stavudine. You may be more likely to develop lactic acidosis if you are overweight or have liver disease, if you are a woman, or if you have taken certain HIV or AIDS medications for a long time. Talk with your doctor about your individual risk.

Stavudine can also cause severe or life-threatening effects on your liver or pancreas. Tell your doctor if you have liver disease or a history of pancreatitis.

To make sure you can safely take stavudine, tell your doctor if you have any of these other conditions:

  • kidney disease;
  • diabetes (stavudine liquid contains 250 milligrams of sucrose per teaspoon); or
  • if you have used a medicine similar to stavudine in the past, such as abacavir (Ziagen), didanosine (Videx), emtricitabine (Atripla, Complera, Emtriva, Truvada), lamivudine (Epivir, Combivir, Epzicom, Trizivir), tenofovir (Viread), zalcitabine (Hivid), or zidovudine (Retrovir).

FDA pregnancy category C. It is not known whether this medication is harmful to an unborn baby. HIV can be passed to the baby if the mother is not properly treated during pregnancy. Stavudine may also be more likely to cause lactic acidosis in a pregnant woman. Tell your doctor if you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant during treatment. Take all of your HIV medicines as directed to control your infection while you are pregnant.

If you are pregnant, your name may be listed on a pregnancy registry. This is to track the outcome of the pregnancy and to evaluate any effects of stavudine on the baby.

You should not breast-feed while you are using stavudine. Women with HIV or AIDS should not breast-feed at all. Even if your baby is born without HIV, you may still pass the virus to the baby in your breast milk.

How should I take stavudine (Zerit)?

Take this medication exactly as it was prescribed for you. Do not take the medication in larger amounts, or take it for longer than recommended by your doctor. Follow the directions on your prescription label.

Do not take stavudine as your only HIV medication. HIV/AIDS is usually treated with a combination of drugs. Use all medications as directed by your doctor. Read the medication guide or patient instructions provided with each medication. Do not change your doses or medication schedule without your doctor's advice. Every person with HIV or AIDS should remain under the care of a doctor.

Stavudine can be taken with or without food. Take your doses at regular intervals to keep a steady amount of the drug in your body at all times. Stavudine is usually given once every 12 hours.

Tell your doctor if you have any changes in your weight. Stavudine doses are based on weight.

Measure liquid medicine with a special dose-measuring spoon or medicine cup, not with a regular table spoon. If you do not have a dose-measuring device, ask your pharmacist for one.

To be sure this medication is helping your condition, your blood will need to be tested on a regular basis. Your liver function may also need to be tested. Do not miss any visits to your doctor.

Store stavudine capsules at room temperature away from moisture and heat. Keep the bottle tightly closed.

Store the liquid medicine in the refrigerator, do not freeze. Throw away any unused liquid after 30 days.

Throw away any unused or expired stavudine in a closed container or sealed bag. You may also ask your pharmacist where to locate a community pharmaceutical take-back disposal program.

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.

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