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What should I discuss with my healthcare provider before taking stavudine (Zerit)?
Do not use this medication if you are allergic to stavudine.
If you have certain conditions, you may need a dose adjustment or special tests to safely take this medication. Before taking stavudine, tell your doctor if you are allergic to any drugs, or if you have:
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. Call your doctor at once if you have any of these symptoms while taking stavudine: severe pain in your upper stomach spreading to your back, fast heart rate, nausea and vomiting, diarrhea, loss of appetite, low fever, dark urine, clay-colored stools, or jaundice (yellowing of the skin or eyes).
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.
Your name may need to be listed on an antiviral pregnancy registry when you start using stavudine. The purpose of this registry is to track the outcome of the pregnancy and delivery to evaluate whether stavudine had any effect 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.
If you have diabetes, you should know that the liquid form of this medication contains 50 milligrams (mg) of sucrose (sugar) per milliliter (mL). This is equal to 250 milligrams of sugar per teaspoon (5 mL) of stavudine liquid.
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.
This medication comes with patient instructions for safe and effective use. Follow these directions carefully. Ask your doctor or pharmacist if you have any questions.
Take stavudine with a full glass of water.
Stavudine can be taken with or without food.
Shake the oral suspension (liquid) well just before you measure a dose. To be sure you get the correct dose, measure the liquid with a marked 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.
It is important to use stavudine regularly to get the most benefit. Get your prescription refilled before you run out of medicine completely.
HIV/AIDS is usually treated with a combination of different drugs. To best treat your condition, use all of your medications as directed by your doctor. Be sure to read the medication guide or patient instructions provided with each of your medications. Do not change your doses or medication schedule without advice from your doctor. Every person with HIV or AIDS should remain under the care of a doctor.
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 this medication at room temperature away from moisture and heat. Keep the bottle tightly closed.
Keep the oral liquid in the refrigerator but do not let it freeze. Throw away any leftover medication 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.
Need help identifying pills and medications?
Resources for Staying Well
- HIV-AIDS: Myths and Facts
- Understanding The Symptoms of AIDS/HIV
- The Top 10 Myths and Misconceptions About HIV and AIDS