zalcitabine (generic name)

It is used with other medicines to treat HIV
(zal SITE a been)
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What is this medicine?

ZALCITABINE, ddC (zal SITE a been) is an antiretroviral drug. It is used with other medicines to treat HIV. This medicine is not a cure for HIV. It will not stop the spread of HIV to others.

NOTE: This drug is discontinued in the United States.

What should I tell my health care provider before I take this medicine?

They need to know if you have any of these conditions:
  • if you frequently drink alcohol containing drinks
  • kidney disease
  • liver disease
  • pancreatitis
  • tingling or numbness in the hands or feet
  • an unusual or allergic reaction to zalcitabine, other medicines, foods, dyes, or preservatives
  • pregnant or trying to get pregnant
  • breast-feeding

How should I use this medicine?

Take this medicine by mouth with a glass of water. Follow the directions on the prescription label. Take this medicine on an empty stomach, at least 1 hour before or 2 hours after food. Do not take with food. Take your medicine at regular intervals. Do not take your medicine more often than directed. For your anti-HIV therapy to work as well as possible, take each dose exactly as prescribed. Do not skip doses or stop your medicine even if you feel better. Skipping doses may make the HIV virus resistant to this medicine and other medicines. Do not stop taking except on your doctor's advice.

Talk to your pediatrician regarding the use of this medicine in children. While this drug may be prescribed for children as young as 4 weeks old for selected conditions, precautions do apply.

What if I miss a dose?

If you miss a dose, take it as soon as you can. If it is almost time for your next dose, take only that dose. Do not take double or extra doses.

What may interact with this medicine?

  • amphotericin
  • antacids
  • antibiotics called aminoglycosides
  • chloramphenicol
  • cimetidine
  • cisplatin
  • dapsone
  • disulfiram
  • doxorubicin
  • ethionamide
  • foscarnet
  • glutethimide
  • gold compounds
  • hydralazine
  • iodoquinol
  • isoniazid
  • metoclopramide
  • metronidazole
  • nitrofurantoin
  • other medicines for HIV
  • pentamidine
  • phenytoin
  • probenecid
  • ribavirin
  • vincristine

What should I watch for while using this medicine?

Visit your doctor or health care professional for regular check ups. Discuss any new symptoms with your doctor. You will need to have important blood work done while on this medicine.

HIV is spread to others through sexual or blood contact. Talk to your doctor about how to stop the spread of HIV.

Do not treat severe stomach pain, nausea or vomiting with over-the-counter medicines. Contact your doctor.

What side effects may I notice from receiving this medicine?

Side effects that you should report to your doctor or health care professional as soon as possible:
  • allergic reactions like skin rash, itching or hives, swelling of the face, lips, or tongue
  • breathing difficulties
  • chest pain or palpitations
  • dark urine
  • dizziness or fainting
  • fever or chills, sore throat
  • general ill feeling or flu-like symptoms
  • light-colored stools
  • loss of appetite
  • nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, unusual stomach upset or pain
  • pain, tingling, numbness in the hands or feet
  • swelling of the legs or ankles
  • right upper belly pain
  • unusually weak or tired
  • yellowing of the eyes or skin

Side effects that usually do not require medical attention (report to your doctor or health care professional if they continue or are bothersome):

  • muscle and joint pain
  • sores in the mouth or throat
  • weight gain around waist, back, or thinning of face, arms, legs

Where should I keep my medicine?

Keep out of the reach of children.

Store at room temperature between 15 and 30 degrees C (59 and 86 degrees F). Throw away any unused medicine after the expiration date.

Remember, keep this and all other medicines out of the reach of children, never share your medicines with others, and use this medication only for the indication prescribed.

Last Updated: September 15, 2009
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