Stavudine can cause serious, life-threatening side effects. These include lactic acidosis (buildup of acid in the blood), liver problems, and pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas).
Contact your health care provider right away if you have any of the following symptoms that may signal lactic acidosis:
- Feeling very weak or tired.
- Unusual muscle pain.
- Trouble breathing.
- Stomach pain with nausea and vomiting.
- Feeling cold, especially in your arms and legs.
- Feeling dizzy or light-headed.
- Fast or irregular heartbeat.
Contact your health care provider right away if you have any of the following symptoms that may signal liver problems:
- Yellowing of your skin or the whites of your eyes (jaundice).
- Dark-colored urine.
- Pain on the right side of your stomach.
- Swelling of your stomach.
- Easy bruising or bleeding.
- Loss of appetite.
Contact your health care provider right away if you have any of the following symptoms that may signal pancreatitis:
- Stomach pain.
- Swelling of your stomach.
While taking stavudine, it is important to keep all of your appointments with your health care provider.
What is stavudine?
Stavudine is a prescription medicine approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the treatment of HIV infection in adults, children, and infants. Stavudine is always used in combination with other anti-HIV medicines.
Stavudine is a type of anti-HIV medicine called a nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitor (NRTI). NRTIs work by blocking HIV reverse transcriptase, an HIV enzyme. This prevents HIV from replicating and lowers the amount of HIV in the blood.
Stavudine does not cure HIV/AIDS. It is not known if stavudine reduces the risk of passing HIV to other people.
What should I tell my health care provider before taking stavudine?
Before taking stavudine, tell your health care provider:
- If you are allergic to stavudine or any other medicines.
- If you have or had liver problems (such as hepatitis).
- If you have or had problems with your pancreas (such as pancreatitis).
- If you have gallstones.
- If you regularly drink alcoholic beverages.
- If you have or had kidney problems.
- If you have or had persistent numbness, tingling, or pain in the hands or feet (peripheral neuropathy).
- If you have any other medical conditions.
- If you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant. Whether stavudine can harm an unborn baby is unknown.
- If you are breastfeeding or plan to breastfeed. Do not breastfeed if you are infected with HIV or are taking stavudine.
- About other prescription and nonprescription medicines, vitamins, nutritional supplements, and herbal products you are taking or plan to take. Stavudine may affect the way other medicines or products work, and other medicines or products may affect how stavudine works. Taking stavudine together with certain medicines or products may cause serious and/or life-threatening side effects.
How should I take stavudine?
Stavudine comes in the following forms and strengths:
- 15-mg capsules (brand name: Zerit).
- 20-mg capsules (brand name: Zerit).
- 30-mg capsules (brand name: Zerit).
- 40-mg capsules (brand name: Zerit).
- 1-mg/mL oral solution (brand name: Zerit).
An extended-release capsule form of stavudine (brand name: Zerit XR) was approved by FDA in December 2002, but manufacturing of this form is currently discontinued in the United States.
Take stavudine according to your health care provider’s instructions.
Take stavudine with or without food. When giving stavudine oral solution to a child, shake the bottle well before measuring each dose.
Always take stavudine in combination with other anti-HIV medicines.
If you take too much stavudine, contact your local poison control center (1-800-222-1222) or go to the nearest hospital emergency room right away.
For more information on how to take stavudine, see the FDA drug label from DailyMed. (DailyMed is a federal website that includes the most recent drug labels submitted to FDA.)
What should I do if I forget a dose?
Take the missed dose as soon as you remember it. But if it is almost time for your next dose, skip the missed dose and just take your next dose at the regular time. Do not take two doses at the same time to make up for a missed dose.
What side effects can stavudine cause?
Stavudine can cause serious, life-threatening side effects. These include lactic acidosis (buildup of acid in the blood), liver problems, and pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas). (See the WARNING above.)
Other possible side effects of stavudine include:
- Neurologic symptoms. Symptoms include weakness of your legs, feet, arms, or hands (motor weakness) and numbness or tingling in your hands or feet (peripheral neuropathy). Tell your health care provider right away if you have any neurologic symptoms.
- Changes in body fat (lipodystrophy).
- Changes in your immune system (immune reconstitution inflammatory syndrome).
Tell your health care provider if you have any side effect that bothers you or that does not go away.
These are not all the possible side effects of stavudine. Ask your health care provider or pharmacist for more information on possible side effects of stavudine.
How should stavudine be stored?
- Store stavudine capsules in a tightly closed container at room temperature, 59°F to 86°F (15°C to 30°C).
- Store stavudine oral solution in a tightly closed container in the refrigerator, 36°F to 46°F (2°C to 8°C). Throw away any unused medicine after 30 days.
- Safely throw away stavudine that is no longer needed or expired (out of date).
- Keep stavudine and all medicines out of reach of children.
Where can I find more information about stavudine?
More information about stavudine is available:
Last Reviewed: September 13, 2012
Last Updated: August 23, 2013