What is Zerit?Zerit is a medication used to treat HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. Zerit belongs to a class of drugs called nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors. Zerit is taken in combination with other anti-HIV medications to reduce the amount of virus circulating in your blood, and to increase the number of disease-fighting cells in your blood.
What is the most important information I should know about Zerit?Zerit will not cure your HIV infection. Even while taking Zerit, it is still possible to have HIV-related illnesses, including infections caused by other disease-producing organisms. See your doctor regularly and report any medical problems that occur.
Zerit does not prevent a person infected with HIV from passing the virus to others. It is important to practice safe sex and prevent others from coming in contact with your blood or body fluids.
Zerit may cause severe liver enlargement and injury. This can lead to a rise in the levels of lactic acid in your blood, causing a condition known as lactic acidosis. Fatal cases of lactic acidosis have been reported in pregnant women who took Zerit and didanosine along with other anti-HIV medicines.
Do not take zidovudine (AZT) while taking Zerit, because AZT may interfere with the actions of Zerit. Products containing AZT include Combivir, Retrovir, and Trizivir.
If you are taking ribaviron or interferon, your doctor may need to monitor your therapy more closely or may consider a change in your therapy.
Zerit and didanosine should only be taken together if the benefit outweighs the risk, a decision that your doctor will make. Fatal and nonfatal inflammation of the pancreas can occur if Zerit is taken with didanosine and/or hydroxyurea. Stop taking Zerit and tell your doctor immediately if you experience nausea, vomiting, or stomach pains. These may be a sign of injury to your pancreas.
Zerit may cause a disorder called peripheral neuropathy, which affects the nerves in the hands and feet, especially if you have advanced HIV disease, if you have ever had peripheral neuropathy, or if you are also taking other drugs that can cause neuropathies, such as didanosine.
Who should not take Zerit?You should not take Zerit if you are allergic to any of its ingredients, including stavudine.
What should I tell my doctor before I take the first dose of Zerit?Mention all prescription, over-the-counter, and herbal medications you are taking before beginning treatment with Zerit. Also, talk to your doctor about your complete medical history, especially if you have a history of kidney or liver problems, diabetes, peripheral neuropathies, or if you are pregnant, breastfeeding, or plan to become pregnant.
What is the usual dosage?The information below is based on the dosage guidelines your doctor uses. Depending on your condition and medical history, your doctor may prescribe a different regimen. Do not change the dosage or stop taking your medication without your doctor's approval.
Your doctor will determine your dose based on your body weight, kidney and liver function, and any side effects that you may have had with other medicines.
Adults: The usual dose if you weigh 132 pounds or more is 40 milligrams (mg) taken twice a day (every 12 hours). If you weigh less than 132 pounds, the usual dose is 30 mg taken twice a day.
Children from birth to 13 days old: The usual dose is 0.5 mg per 2.2 pounds of body weight per dose, given once every 12 hours.
Children at least 14 days old and weighing less than 66 pounds: The usual dose is 1 mg per 2.2 pounds of body weight per dose, given once every 12 hours.
Note: Children weighing 66 pounds or more should receive the adult dose.
If you experience numbness, tingling, or pain in the feet or hands, Zerit should be stopped. In some cases, symptoms may worsen temporarily following discontinuation of therapy. If symptoms resolve completely, you should take one-half the recommended dose: 20 mg twice daily for patients weighing greater than or equal to 132 pounds of body weight and 15 mg twice daily for patients weighing less than 132 pounds of body weight.
How should I take Zerit?Zerit may be taken with or without food. Each Zerit dose should be taken twice a day (12 hours apart) and should be taken at the same time every day. Take Zerit exactly as your doctor has prescribed. Do not skip doses.
What should I avoid while taking Zerit?You should not breastfeed while taking Zerit. You should not take AZT while taking Zerit, because zidovudine may interfere with the actions of Zerit.
What are possible food and drug interactions associated with Zerit?If Zerit is taken with certain other drugs, the effects of either could be increased, decreased, or altered. It is especially important to check with your doctor before combining Zerit with didanosine, doxorubicin, hydroxyurea, ribavirin, or zidovudine.
What are the possible side effects of Zerit?Side effects cannot be anticipated. If any develop or change in intensity, tell your doctor as soon as possible. Only your doctor can determine if it is safe for you to continue taking this drug.
Side effects may include: headache, diarrhea, rash, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, muscle pain or weakness in the arms and legs, trouble sleeping (insomnia), loss of appetite, chills or fever, allergic reactions, blood disorders, changes in body fat, feeling weak and tired, shortness of breath
Can I receive Zerit if I am pregnant or breastfeeding?The effects of Zerit during pregnancy are not known. Pregnant women have experienced serious side effects when taking Zerit in combination with didanosine or other HIV medicines. You should only take Zerit if you are pregnant, after discussing the risks and benefits with your doctor. Tell your doctor immediately if you are pregnant, plan to become pregnant, or are breastfeeding. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that HIV-infected mothers not breastfeed, to reduce the risk of passing HIV infection to their babies and the potential for serious adverse reactions in nursing infants. Therefore, do not nurse a baby while taking Zerit.
What should I do if I miss a dose of Zerit?If you forget to take Zerit, take the missed dose right away. If it is almost time for your next dose, do not take the missed dose. Instead, follow your regular dosing schedule by taking the next dose at its regular time. Do not double your doses.
It is very important to not miss doses, as this may allow the HIV virus to multiply in your body.
How should I store Zerit?Store Zerit capsules in a tightly closed container at room temperature away from heat. Do not store Zerit in a damp place, such as a bathroom medicine cabinet or near the kitchen sink. Store Zerit for oral solution in a tightly closed container in a refrigerator and throw away any unused portion after 30 days.