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 have liver problems, are female, are pregnant, are overweight, or have been treated for a long time with other HIV medicines. There have been deaths reported in pregnant women who developed 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:
Contact your health care provider right away if you have any of the following symptoms that could be signs of liver problems:
Contact your health care provider right away if you have any of the following symptoms that could be signs of pancreatitis:
While taking stavudine, it is important to keep all of your appointments with your health care provider.
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.
Before taking stavudine, tell your health care provider:
Stavudine comes in capsule form (brand name: Zerit) in the following strengths:
Stavudine also comes as a 1-mg/mL oral solution (brand name: Zerit). A pharmacist prepares the stavudine 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. Avoid drinking alcohol while taking stavudine. Alcohol may increase your risk of getting pain and swelling of your pancreas (pancreatitis) or may damage your liver.
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.)
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.
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:
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.
The AIDSinfo fact sheet on HIV Medicines and Side Effects also includes information that may apply to stavudine.
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/.
Stavudine oral solution:
Keep stavudine and all medicines out of reach of children. Throw away stavudine that is no longer needed or expired (out of date). Follow FDA guidelines on how to safely dispose of unused medicine.
More information about stavudine is available:
Last Reviewed: February 12, 2015