Didanosine can cause serious, life-threatening side effects. These include pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas), lactic acidosis (buildup of lactic acid in the blood), and liver problems. The combination of didanosine and stavudine (another HIV medicine; brand name: Zerit) should be used with caution in pregnant women because of the risk of lactic acidosis.
Contact your health care provider right away if you have any of the following symptoms that could be signs of pancreatitis:
Contact your health care provider right away if you have any of the following symptoms that could be signs of lactic acidosis:
Contact your health care provider right away if you have any of the following symptoms that could be signs of liver problems:
While taking didanosine, it is important to keep all of your appointments with your health care provider.
Didanosine is a prescription medicine approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the treatment of HIV infection in adults and children 2 weeks of age and older. Didanosine is always used in combination with other HIV medicines.
Didanosine 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 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 didanosine, don’t cut down on, skip, or stop taking them unless your health care provider tells you to.
Before taking didanosine, tell your health care provider:
Didanosine comes in capsule form for use in adults and children 6 years of age or older who can safely swallow capsules and weigh at least 20 kg. The capsules come in 4 strengths, all under the brand name Videx EC:
Didanosine also comes in a powder to mix with water to create an oral solution. An oral solution is a mixture of a medicine and a liquid that can be taken by mouth. The powder for oral solution can be used in adults and in children 2 weeks of age and older. The powder for oral solution comes in two strengths, both under the brand name Videx:
Take didanosine according to your health care provider’s instructions.
Both didanosine capsules and didanosine oral solution should be taken on an empty stomach. Do not take didanosine with food. Take didanosine oral solution at least 30 minutes before or 2 hours after you eat. Swallow the didanosine capsule whole; do not open it.
Some medicines should not be taken at the same time of day that you take didanosine. Talk to your health care provider about other medicines that you take.
Always take didanosine in combination with other HIV medicines.
If you take too much didanosine, 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 didanosine, see the FDA drug labels for didanosine capsules (brand name: Videx EC) and didanosine powder for oral solution (brand name: Videx), from DailyMed. (DailyMed is a federal website that includes the most recent drug labels submitted to FDA.)
If you miss a dose of didanosine, 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.
Didanosine may cause side effects. Most side effects from didanosine are manageable, but a few can be serious. Serious side effects of didanosine include pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas), lactic acidosis (buildup of lactic acid in the blood), and liver problems. (See the WARNING above.)
Other possible side effects of didanosine include:
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 didanosine. To learn more about possible side effects of didanosine, read the drug label or package insert or talk to your health care provider or pharmacist.
The AIDSinfo fact sheet on HIV Medicines and Side Effects also includes information that may apply to didanosine.
You can also report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088 (1-800-332-1088) or online at https://www.accessdata.fda.gov/scripts/medwatch/.
More information about didanosine is available:
Last Reviewed: January 4, 2016