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AIDSinfo Drug Database

AIDSinfo Drug Database

Drugs by class

FDA-approved

Investigational

Stavudine  Audio icon

Brand Name: Zerit
Other Names: d4T
Drug Class: Nucleoside Reverse Transcriptase Inhibitors
Approved Use: Treatment of HIV Infection
Drug Images:
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Stavudine 20
Stavudine 30
Stavudine 40
Zerit
Stravudine 15
Chemical Image:
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stavudine
stavudine
Molecular Weight: 224.2148

WARNING:

Stavudine can cause serious, life-threatening side effects. These include lactic acidosis (buildup of lactic acid in the blood), liver problems, and pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas). The risk of lactic acidosis may be higher if you are pregnant. There have been deaths reported in pregnant women who get lactic acidosis after taking stavudine and didanosine (another HIV medicine).

Contact your health care provider right away if you have any of the following symptoms that could be signs of lactic acidosis:

  • Unexplained weight loss.
  • Weakness or tiredness.
  • Unusual muscle pain.
  • Trouble breathing.
  • Stomach pain with nausea and vomiting.
  • Feeling cold, especially in your arms and legs.
  • Dizziness or lightheadedness.
  • Fast or irregular heartbeat.

Contact your health care provider right away if you have any of the following symptoms that could be signs of 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.
  • Nausea.
  • Vomiting. 

Contact your health care provider right away if you have any of the following symptoms that could be signs of pancreatitis:

  • Stomach pain.
  • Swelling of your stomach.
  • Nausea.
  • Vomiting.
  • Fever.

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 HIV medicines.

Stavudine belongs to a class (group) of HIV drugs called nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors (NRTIs). NRTIs block an HIV enzyme called reverse transcriptase. (An enzyme is a protein that starts or increases the speed of a chemical reaction.) By blocking reverse transcriptase, NRTIs prevent HIV from multiplying and can reduce the amount of HIV in the body.

HIV medicines can’t cure HIV/AIDS, but taking a combination of HIV medicines (called an HIV treatment regimen) every day helps people with HIV live longer, healthier lives. HIV medicines also reduce the risk of HIV transmission. If you are taking HIV medicines, including stavudine, don’t cut down on, skip, or stop taking them unless your health care provider tells you to.

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 kidney problems.
  • If you have or had problems with your pancreas (such as pancreatitis).
  • If you have gallstones.
  • 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 drink alcoholic beverages.
  • If you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant. Whether stavudine can harm an unborn baby is unknown. The combination of stavudine and didanosine, another HIV medicine, should be used with caution during pregnancy. Tell your healthcare provider right away if you become pregnant while taking stavudine. You and your healthcare provider will decide if you should take stavudine while you are pregnant.
  • 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 capsule form (brand name: Zerit) in the following strengths:

  • 15-mg capsules.
  • 20-mg capsules.
  • 30-mg capsules.
  • 40-mg capsules.

Stavudine also comes as a 1-mg/mL oral solution (brand name: Zerit). A pharmacist prepares the oral solution by mixing stavudine powder with purified water.

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 HIV medicines.

If you take too much stavudine, contact your health care provider or local poison control center (1-800-222-1222) right away, or go to the nearest hospital emergency room.

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?

If you miss a dose of stavudine, 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 lactic 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 (signs that stavudine may be affecting the nerves). Tell your health care provider right away if you have any numbness in your hands or feet, tingling in your hands or feet, or weakness in your legs, feet, arms, or hands.
  • Changes in body fat (lipodystrophy).
  • Changes in your immune system (immune reconstitution inflammatory syndrome [IRIS]).

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. To learn more about possible side effects of stavudine, read the drug label or package insert or talk to your health care provider or pharmacist.

How should stavudine be stored?

Stavudine capsules:

  • Store stavudine capsules at 59°F to 86°F (15°C to 30°C).
  • Keep stavudine capsules in the container that they came in and keep the container tightly closed. If the container has a small packet of drying agent (called a desiccant), do not remove it. The desiccant protects the medicine from moisture.
  • Do not use the stavudine capsules if the original seal over the bottle opening is broken or missing.
Stavudine oral solution:
  • Store stavudine oral solution in the refrigerator at 36°F to 46°F (2°C to 8°C).
  • Keep stavudine oral solution in the bottle that it came in and keep the container tightly closed.
  • Do not use stavudine oral solution if the original seal over the bottle opening is broken or missing.
  • Throw away any unused stavudine oral solution after 30 days.

Keep stavudine and all medicines out of reach of children. Follow FDA's guidelines to safely dispose of stavudine that is no longer needed or expired (out of date).

Where can I find more information about stavudine?

More information about stavudine is available:

Manufacturer Information

Bristol-Myers Squibb
800-332-2056

The above Patient Version drug summary is based on the following FDA label(s): Capsule (gelatin coated), powder (for solution).

Last Reviewed: October 26, 2014

Last Updated: October 26, 2014


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